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John Tory on defense as Doug Ford makes debate debut

Doug Ford went head-to-head with Olivia Chow and John Tory on Tuesday in his first debate since becoming a mayoral candidate.

The debate was hosted by the York South-Weston community associations.

An over capacity, boistrous crowd was on hand for Ford’s premier appearance in the mayoral debate.

Some of the topics debated included jobs, transit plans, housing and curbing violence in the city.

Tory was on the defense for much of the night, finding himself on the receiving end of attacks from both of his opponents.

“You aren’t a straight shooter. You flip flop back and forth every single day John,” Ford said.

Ford also questioned Tory’s lack of experience at city hall, saying no person had ever been elected mayor having not sat on city council.

“The problem is John you’ve never been down at city hall,” said Ford. “He doesn’t understand how city hall works.”

Tory struck back saying that there are things he would learn once he was in city hall and that he would work with council, not against them.

“You can’t run away from the fact that the last three years have had more division and chaos,” said Tory. “I will not call my colleagues on the city council ‘monkeys’ as Mr. Ford does.”

Chow attacked Tory’s SmartTrack plan, questioning how many homes would have to be destroyed to accommodate sections of track.

Both Chow and Tory put Ford in the hot seat when it came to the Pride Parade.

Ford said that he had attended the event in the past but would not state if he would march in the parade or take part in events if elected mayor.

Ford’s message in the debate circuit was not much different than the “respect for taxpayers” mantra of his brother, Mayor Rob Ford.

“Folks I’m in this race for two simple reasons — I love this city and the people that live here,” Ford told the raucous crowd. “Four years ago folks you stood behind my brother and you voted for change, and together we did what we said we were going to do.”

Ford referenced his brother in many of his arguments, portraying himself as a partner in the municipal measures the mayor has touted as his achievements in the past.

“Together we stopped the gravy train and together we stopped the tax and spend ways at city hall,” he said. “We got 99 per cent of our agenda through by building consensus.”

Ford also peppered his comments with appeals to the everyman, just as his brother does, despite the pair coming from an affluent family.

“Folks we put the average everyday person first, we did that because we get it, we’re just like you,” he said. “We can’t go backwards, folks, we can’t go backwards after all the progress that we’ve made.”

During the two-hour debate police had to remove one protester while the three candidates discussed transit and how they would build consensus at city council and at the provincial level.

Despite the fireworks, Ford’s entrance into the mayoral campaign may see more voters casting ballots.

With files from The Canadian Press