By Jonathan Bradley
An on-campus debate with mayoral candidates running in the upcoming Toronto election is in the works, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) has confirmed.
Salman Faruqi, RSU vice-president education, said the desired date for the debate at Ryerson is Oct. 2—about two weeks before the election.
“We’re looking to hold the debate in early October. We’re still trying to confirm a number of things like the file confirmation of the candidates,” Faruqi told The Eye. “It’s a youth focused debate, and it’s going to be held at Ryerson University if everything goes according to plan.”
Torontonians who are 18 years or older will cast their ballots for their next mayor on Oct. 22.
The participants in the debate have not been confirmed, but the RSU intends to host three or four candidates. Candidates include incumbent Toronto Mayor John Tory, former Toronto chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat, safe streets advocate Sarah Climenhaga, Ryerson grad and human rights lawyer Saron Gebresellassi and neo-Nazi Faith Goldy.
The location of the debate for the Toronto election will be the upper gym in Kerr Hall, Faruqi said. The gym can fit up to 1,200 people, depending on how the event organizers want to arrange the space, according to Ryerson’s facilities management and development.
“It’s really important that we host this debate because we need to get students more involved in the process, more aware of the voting process, and ensuring they know their vote counts,” said Faruqi.
The format of the debate will be a question and answer session, he said. There will also be a discussion with the candidates before about whether or not they want to have audience or online questions.
Ryerson is an ideal place to host a mayoral debate because it’s different from any other campus in the province.
“A lot of our students are commuter students. You have those students who live in the area that will be primarily affected by what is going on, and you have those students who live in places like Mississauga, outside the jurisdiction of the city, and you have their issues,” he said. “Both sides have problems they want dealt with.”
Faruqi said the RSU will not be making an endorsement for the Toronto election, but for him, it is important students learn more about their political candidates.
Ryerson hosted a forum with the Ontario Premier candidates in February, where they discussed the need to engage youth in politics.