This post describes TYFPC member Kaylen Fredrickson’s experience at the mayoral debate on September 14, 2014.
I attended my first mayoral debate yesterday at Evergreen Brick Works. The event took place following the Sunday Farmers’ Market. (New this season! Check it out!) After picking up some peaches and kombucha, I headed to the debate grounds. There were lots of people, including media. (As a result, there are many recaps of the debate online. For instance, you can watch a 3 minute debate recap on CBC’s website.)
Participating in the full debate were three mayoral candidates: John Tory, Olivia Chow and Ari Goldkind. Three youth candidates were also given a chance to introduce their plans for the city and to respond to the first debate question: Matthew Crack, Morgan Baskin and Klim Khomenko.
The debate was structured around six topics: youth unemployment, public space, extreme weather, transportation, affordable housing, and revenue tools.
Details about each of the candidates’ platforms are available online, and there are lots of recaps of the debates available too, but here are a few things that were said that I found interesting, and that I thought would be interesting to the TYFPC community.
RE: tackling youth unemployment
This was one of the questions with the most specific and relevant answers.
- Chow: use a Community Benefits Agreement with corporations to create 5000 jobs and job training for youth to build infrastructure (similar to the work happening with community groups and Metrolinx)
- Tory: need to bring businesses to Toronto and need to advocate for “our share” of provincial funding (similar to Cisco project)
- Goldkind: charging Torontonians an extra 50 cents a day in taxes would fix housing, transit, unemployment
RE: preserving public spaces
This question started out on track, with talk of increased spending on trees, but quickly devolved into a few statements about one of the most contentious election issues: jets at the Billy Bishop Airport.
- Chow: against jets at Billy Bishop Airport
- Goldkind: against jets at Billy Bishop Airport
- Tory: will work with city council and wait to see research on impacts of jets
RE: extreme weather
The extreme weather question was answered with plans for climate change prevention. At the end of the time for this question, Ari Goldkind asked, “Wasn’t this question about extreme weather?”
- Tory: replicate Race to Reduce for residential properties
- Chow: builders must pay for pollutants; buildings need retrofitting
The transportation issue seemed to be one that everyone had a more solid plan for. But the debate still became about revenue.
- Chow: increase bus services, build LRT, build downtown relief line
- Goldkind: how will we increase revenue to increase spending?
- Tory: we will increase spending by spending money more efficiently
This was an interesting question with some more satisfying and relevant answers… But, even still, I am going to need more time to figure out the implications of each of these proposals.
- Goldkind: make more affordable areas of the city more accessible by revisiting David Miller’s Transit City
- Tory: improve living conditions in existing city housing by replicating Regent Park revitalization with Daniels Corporation; work with private sector to build housing on city lands
- Chow: build 15000 affordable housing units by incentivizing developers with a 10 year deferral of development charges to build 20% affordable units in new projects
RE: revenue tools
This was a topic that I will also have to do more research into, because the answers weren’t that specific about aligning revenue and spending.
- Tory: ask for provincial and federal government to “take responsibility” for Toronto; increase property tax at or below the rate of inflation; implement increased accountability for spending
- Chow: cancel the Scarborough subway line to recapture $1 billion; increase the Municipal Land Transfer Tax by 1% for those that buy homes that cost over $2 million
In the closing remarks, I found there were a few choice phrases that the candidates used to define themselves.
- Tory: competence, reliability, relationships
- Chow: no one should be left behind; I have a plan, Mr. Tory does not
- Goldkind: choose one of the same, or be bold
Many of these proposals are things I plan to read more about over the coming weeks… But, overall, the format of the debate left me wanting more precise plans of action. And I think that reading candidates’ websites is a medium that I am more comfortable with and confident in. (I don’t like all the talking over top of each other!) But trying out the debate was fun, and I encourage everyone to learn about the mayoral, councillor, and school trustee candidates however you can and however you want to! There are lots more upcoming mayoral debates, if you want to give it a try!
The TYFPC is also planning an election-themed community meeting in October, as well as a number of informal discussion meet-ups. For more information, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just keep checking back to our blog, Facebook, or Twitter!