Mayoral hopefuls praise Toronto film industry, The Simpsons

Mayoral hopefuls praise Toronto film industry, The Simpsons

The stage is set for yet another mayoral debate (Image: John Michael McGrath)

This morning—that is, the morning before TIFF—the four males of Toronto’s five leading mayoral hopefuls gathered at the lot formerly known as Filmport, now Pinewood Toronto Studios, to debate the future of the city’s film industry. (Sarah Thomson couldn’t make it, but the boys all showed up.)  At issue were such issues as how to make the city more film-friendly, how to make the industry more city-friendly, and what the city can do when the governments of Ontario and Canada both provide substantial bonuses to film outside of Toronto.

It was a perfect opportunity for the candidates to praise a real success story in Toronto, and they managed to do that when they weren’t talking about the hit American TV show The Simpsons. Rocco Rossi brought up the episode where Hollywood comes to Springfield to shoot Radioactive Man: The Movie. George Smitherman made a nod to the same episode later in the debate. That’s right: even during live debates, the candidates want to change the channel and watch a 15-year-old Simpsons rerun. More depressingly, in a debate about an industry that produces Canadian content, the only bit of TV that was name-dropped was an American one. Does nobody watch Being Erica? Can a brother get a Brent Butt mention?

This was not the finest performance from Rob Ford, mostly because he continues to misread the room he’s in. Today’s railing against the Jarvis bike lane in a crowd of downtown artists was reminiscent of the moment on August 30 when he slammed Nathan Phillips Square’s facelift in a room of building preservationists. Ford also frustrated the crowd when he launched his usual quips at city hall instead of answering a question about provincial and federal tax policy (at least that’s the impression we got from the woman shouting “Answer the damn question!”).

Smitherman got in one decent observation that was surely top of mind during the debate: “Will the mayor still remember this debate out of the 70, 80, 90 debates that we’ve had?” Seriously. It’s getting hard to keep it all straight at this point.

But the two best lines of the day came from Rossi, who responded to Joe Pantalone‘s “mini-Mike Harris” taunt with the line “I hope you all like Miller Lite.”  Later, he informed Ford that when the city calls a secret meeting “in camera,” that’s not an oxymoron; it’s Latin.

Up next: somebody helps a candidate figure out the difference between “up and atom” and “up and at them.”