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Waterfront revitalization hot issue at latest mayoral debate

TORONTO, Ont. – The revitalization of Toronto’s waterfront was centre stage Monday afternoon at the latest mayoral debate that took place at the Harbourfront Centre.

The debate covered several issues including the value of area festivals, the island airport and a rail link to Pearson Airport.

Rob Ford’s response during the debate was mostly “how much will it cost the city?” and that had George Smitherman, at one point, suggesting Ford did not know which level of government paid for what.

Ford continued to slam Smitherman over eHealth, which put the former Minister of Health on the defensive.

“Your continued insinuation that I was responsible for that, when it covered two conservative health ministers is an example, Sir, of how low you are prepared to go to smear me,” Smitherman said.

On the issue of waterfront pollution, Rocco Rossi said he would fight it by expanding transit and planting trees.

While Joe Pantalone said he would maintain city support of waterfront festivals.

When the candidates were asked if the city should take control over the Toronto Port Authority, which is currently controlled at the federal level,  Rossi said absolutely.

Pantalone, however, said the Port Authority should not even exist in the first place. Smitherman said it is not possible right now and Ford said in a perfect world yes, but the city simply cannot afford it.

The organizers of the debate told the candidates ahead of time the issue of a City Centre airport expansion would not be discussed because it was a civic issue and not a waterfront one, which drew jeers from the crowd.

The debate came on the same day a prominent co-chair of Rossi’s mayoral campaign said he is in talks with a top rival.

John Capobianco admitted he told Rob Ford’s team he would join them if Rossi were to drop out of the race.

However, Capobianco added it was a hypothetical scenario discussed among friends, and he confirmed he would stay put as long as Rossi is running for mayor.

On Monday, Rossi made it abundantly clear that he would stay in the race.

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