Latest mayoral debate: Ford opposes immigration and giving credit to Suzan Hall, proposes scrapping the land transfer tax

Latest mayoral debate: Ford opposes immigration and giving credit to Suzan Hall, proposes scrapping the land transfer tax

With the mayoral election just over two months away, the front-running candidates are upping their game when it comes to the debates. Last night, for example, there were plenty of fireworks at CP24’s event as the discussion ranged from immigration to the redevelopment of Rexdale.

With his leading poll numbers, Rob Ford was the lightning rod of the night. Probably the most heated exchange came when George Smitherman raised the question of how Toronto should treat refugees like the boatload of Tamils that have arrived in British Columbia. “I heard Rob Ford say that Toronto should be a refugee-free zone,” Smitherman said, according to the Star. Ford didn’t back down.

Reports the Sun:

“Right now we can’t even deal with the 2.5 million people in this city,” Ford said. “I think it is more important to take care of people now before we start bringing in more people.”

“How are we going to welcome another million people in? It is going to be chaotic. We can’t even deal with the chaos we have now. I think we have to say enough’s enough,” he said.

Smitherman tiptoed up to the abyss of Godwin’s Law by saying that if Ford had been around in the 1930s, Toronto wouldn’t have let in Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. Of course, the city has no control over immigration policy, and it is unlikely that the province or Ottawa is going to cap immigration, so the issue seems like pure electioneering. Certainly, the other candidates ran with it. Rocco Rossi, the son of Italian immigrants, has even gone so far as to call a rally at city hall today for those “appalled and offended” by Ford’s comments.

When they weren’t arguing about immigration, the candidates moved on to issues that are within the city’s purview. Ford promised to scrap the land transfer tax and vehicle registration fee, and once again, we saw everyone not named Rob Ford support the city’s fair wage policy (which prevents contractors from paying less than the prevailing union wage).

Late in the night, as candidates went into a rapid-fire one-on-one round, Rossi goaded Ford on whether he was really responsible for the development of Woodbine Live in Rexdale, noting that the Sun says Councillor Suzan Hall was more responsible. After Ford basically said Hall was a slacker, the Star quotes her as saying, “I kind of resent the fact that it is being portrayed that I did nothing.”

We’re shocked to learn that Rob Ford is causing resentment among his fellow councillors.

Mayoral candidates clash on immigration [Toronto Star]
Toronto mayoral debate [Globe and Mail]
• The Fourth Mayoral Debate: Actual Debate Breaks Out [Torontoist]
• Mayoral candidate Ford calls for cap on city immigration [CTV News]
• Immigration a hot topic in CP24’s mayoral debate [CP24]
• Ford slammed over immigration comments [Toronto Sun]

(Images: Pantalone, Ford,; Rossi, Rocco Rossi; Smitherman, OldTownGuy; Thomson, Joey Schwartz.)