Toronto mayoral debate: the best lines from candidates

Tension and energy filled the room before Tuesday's Toronto mayoral debate, the first debate Rob Ford participated in since returning from rehab earlier this month.

Rob Ford makes boisterous return, but no mention of crack use

Five mayoral candidates battle over subways, traffic, employment, taxes, morals 5:12

Tension and energy filled the room before Tuesday's Toronto mayoral debate, the first debate Rob Ford participated in since returning from rehab earlier this month.

It was only the second time the frontrunners — considered to be Ford, Olivia Chow, John Tory, Karen Stintz and David Soknacki — were all present for a debate. There are more than 60 candidates in total running for mayor.

Watch highlights from the debate above, or watch the entire debate here.

A focus of the debate, for both the audience and other candidates, was Ford. But other candidates also dedicated time to attacking each other, with Chow and Tory being popular targets.

Toronto mayoral candidates from left to right, Olivia Chow, Rob Ford, David Soknacki, Karen Stintz, and John Tory pose with moderator Chris Selley following a mayoral debate in Toronto on Tuesday. (Canadian Press)

"[The mayor] had a lot of bravado last night," said CBC city hall reporter Jamie Strashin. "Calling himself the king of Toronto Community Housing, declaring himself the subway mayor — he was really spurred on by a very vocal, partisan crowd that cheered on what he said and didn't want to hear from other candidates."

Strashin and others pointed out that once again the debate skipped over the history of drug use by the current mayor.

"The only mention of the word 'crack' on stage last night was actually by Mayor Ford and it wasn't in reference to a drug. It was him just saying I'm going to take another crack at reducing the land transfer tax, which got a murmur from the crowd," he said.

Here is a rundown of some of the more memorable lines from the debate:

Rob Ford

On Tory's pledge to find efficiencies: "I've found the efficiencies. Unnecessary staff positions? I've reduced by 1,346. Again, I've done what he says he wants to do. He had his chance at Queen's Park and fell flat on his face as we all know."

On LRTs: "A subway above ground. That's the biggest oxymoron I've heard in my life!"

On leadership: "You have to lead by leadership."

On subways: "I don't waffle on my position on transit. I am the subway candidate. Everyone knows it."

On his opponents transit positions: "There is no difference between John and Olivia on transit."

On returning phone calls: "I said I was going to return every call, I return every call. You know I do, folks!"

On city finances: "We have the money. I've said it from day 1. We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem."

Olivia Chow

Introduction: "My name is Olivia Chow and I am applying to be your mayor."

On Ford's truthfulness: "Even when you're clean and sober you can't stick to the truth,"

"Just repeating what you've said doesn't make it true."

On LRTs: “Above ground means we can build it four years faster, four more stops.”

John Tory

On transit: "I would not rip up an existing agreement as Ms. Chow would do."

"Stop the debate, build transit."

On Chow: "This is what you know how to do: endless debates that are about scoring political points."

On Ford: "You lost the ability to work with city council and you still don't have it back and you won't get it back.

On cost overruns on city projects during the last year: "We know what you were doing, and it wasn’t managing the taxpayers’ money."

David Soknacki

On LRTs: "LRTs are the best for Scarborough."

"If we had light-rail transit, there would be a transit stop across the street."

"If you want something faster? You're building an LRT. If you want something cheaper? You're building an LRT. If you want something to serve more people? You're building an LRT."

Karen Stintz

On Tory: "This is not a talk show, John."

On trust: "People ask me what the ballot question is … Who do you trust? Some of you will trust Rob Ford. And that's fine. I trusted Rob. I did. For the first two years I thought we were on the right track. But we lost our way."

On Tory: "What I don't trust and what you shouldn't trust is sending someone to be your mayor who has no experience at city hall."

And the one memorable line from debate moderator Chris Selley, a city columnist at the National Post, came after Ford's claim to have saved a billion dollars: "Other opinions are available on that figure."


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