George Smitherman attends enemy-choosing ceremony in Scarborough

George Smitherman attends enemy-choosing ceremony in Scarborough

The great Toronto bald-off: Smitherman (right) goes after Rossi (Images: Toronto Board of Trade, Shaun Merritt)

The six most recognizable (read: sanest) of the 26 mayoral candidates gathered for the first time last night so that front-runner George Smitherman could choose his antagonist. There may have been a group debate planned, but it seemed clear that this was a reality TV–style moment with one clear star: whomever Smitherman singled out would be his leading competition, and whomever he ignored would be relegated to the fringe. With that in mind, congratulations to Rocco Rossi.

Once Smitherman had Rossi in his sights, the two acted as if they were the only ones there, trading barbs and zingers, defining themselves as the ones to beat. When Smitherman compared some of Rossi’s proposals to Mike Harris’s, the former fundraiser churlishly said, according to the Post,

ROSSI: The answer to Mr. Smitherman is, if he hadn’t blown $1 billion on eHealth…then maybe, just maybe, his former boss would have had the money to continue to invest in this city.

SMITHERMAN: The difference between you and me is that I have experience and a track record and you have none.

The rest of the candidates stuck to their scripts and characters: Rob Ford wants better customer service; Sarah Thomson really, really, really likes subways; Giorgio Mammoliti brought only six supporters; and Joe Pantalone defended the Miller legacy. His defence of Transit City made us want to pet the little guy: “We all like subways. I like to have the best meal in town possible, but if I don’t have a wallet to go with it, then you just make the best you can.”

Oh, snap?

Would be mayors in war of words [Toronto Star]
Toronto mayoral candidates face off for the first time [Globe and Mail]
Hall Monitor: first mayoral debate gets heated [National Post]