Ten fact-checked statements from Thursday’s mayoral debate
Candidates John Tory, Doug Ford and Olivia Chow made a lot of claims during Thursday night’s debate on CityTV, the last one of this mayoral campaign. Here, writer and comedian Jeremy Woodcock takes a hard-hitting look at some of these dubious statements, to see if they stand up to close examination.
STATEMENT: “We’re going to begin with opening statements.” – Moderator
FACT-CHECK: They did. It’s actually the only way you can begin.
STATEMENT: “Flip-flops are for beaches, not for politics.” – Doug Ford
FACT-CHECK: Flip-flops are for nowhere, never. I hope we all realize this by now.
I do acknowledge the difficulties, however, of going barefoot when dealing with the various potential hazards one can find on a beach: glass, fish-bones, land-jellyfish. This is why the ideal footwear for the beach would be some kind of as-yet-uninvented translucent foot covering that allows you to maintain traction while also feeling the comfortable sensation of sand beneath your toes.
I am a single-issue voter, and that was my single issue during this campaign; unfortunately, no candidate addressed it. I guess I could have asked one of them about it in order to force them to take a position on the matter, but I wanted that to come about organically. Like the land-jellyfish did, over millions of years of evolution.
VERDICT: MAYBE JUST WEAR YOUR REGULAR SHOES AND STAY ON THE GRASS.
STATEMENT: “Transit promotes development.” – John Tory
STATEMENT: “He was ranting and raving about how we need to increase taxes.” – Doug Ford on John Tory’s behaviour over the past few years, which Ford suggests has changed completely now that Tory is running for mayor.
FACT-CHECK: It seems important to give appropriate attention to Tory’s frequent point: that, back when he was still openly advocating for the use of dedicated revenue tools to fund transit expansion, he had a different job, and was employed to fight for different interests. Even so, one would hope that a person’s views and ethics would be consistent. So, Ford does make a fair point about Tory’s stance on taxation.
But, to address the first half of the sentence: I believe the closest John Tory has ever come to ranting and raving was when he tried to part his hair to the left one day instead of to the right. He apologized and formed an ad hoc committee to examine how to prevent similar incidents in the future.
VERDICT: HALF-TRUE. OR, NO, PART-TRUE. HEH. GET IT? “PART”?
STATEMENT: “Fiction is for the library, not for election campaigns.” – John Tory to Doug Ford
FACT-CHECK: Non-fiction is also for the library. Didn’t you ever read Freakonomics? Good book! Also, some of the best fiction I have ever come across has consisted of politicians describing and sugarcoating their backstories. Lotta whoppers. So, maybe fiction shouldn’t be in election campaigns, but it sure is.
Bonus Fact: The Lord of the Rings is simply an unabridged transcript of a speech Calvin Coolidge made while running for President of the United States in 1923.
STATEMENT: “This administration has put double the amount of money into cycling than the previous administration is…Matter of fact, I believe it’s over $40 million, compared to less than probably 20 million.” – Doug Ford
FACT-CHECK: “This administration has put double the amount of money into cycling than the previous administration
is HAS. Matter of fact I believe it’s over 40 million dollars (CITATION PLEASE), compared to less than probably 20 million (CITATION PLEASE. I GENUINELY DON’T UNDERSTAND IF YOU ARE MAKING UP THESE NUMBERS, IDEALLY YOU WOULD STOP SAYING ‘I BELIEVE’ WHEN TALKING ABOUT A NUMBER. ALSO WHAT IS ‘LESS THAN PROBABLY TWENTY MILLION?’ WERE YOU JUST TRYING TO THINK OF THE RIGHT NUMBER TO GO ALONG WITH YOUR STATEMENT THAT IT WAS DOUBLE? IF YOU’RE GOING TO DO THAT, JUST STICK WITH SAYING DOUBLE. NO NEED TO IMPRESS US BY COMING UP WITH WHAT ONE-HALF OF THE NUMBER YOU MADE UP IS.).”
STATEMENT: “We’ve built a subway.” – Doug Ford
FACT-CHECK: We’ll take this one point by point.
• By “we,” he means his brother, Rob Ford.
• By “built,” he means one day may build.
• By “a,” he means zero.
• By “subway,” he means “subway tracks/tunnels.” He and Rob probably won’t build the subway. And certainly not themselves, with their bare hands. So that makes the “we” extra-wrong.
• “.” is accurate, though, if you can picture a period being said aloud. After he said, “We’ve built a subway,” Doug Ford had definitely said all he had to say.
VERDICT: “.” !
STATEMENT: “We should pack a bunch of undecided voters into a bus and drive it around the Gardiner. We will call it ‘a busload of undecided voters.’ This will be a good idea, and people will praise it as such!” – The producers of this debate
FACT-CHECK: Hm. Do you really think that’s—hmm. I mean, that’s certainly an option. That’s a thing you can do. I guess every debate has always had the option of filling a bus full of people and driving them around. I guess each time they decided not to. I, personally, think that was the right decision. There. That was measured criticism, right?
VERDICT: “Vroom, vroom! Wait which way do we go? Left or right? It’s all the same to me!” – An undecided bus
Bonus Fact: They had a BUS OF UNDECIDED VOTERS.
STATEMENT: “The real lesson here is that both of my friends have put forward these big boxcar numbers.” – John Tory
FACT-CHECK: John Tory is the one candidate I can genuinely believe is friends with both of the other candidates. However, “boxcars” have not been a valid method/unit of comparison since the We Can Compare It To a Big Truck Or Plane Now Act of 1934.
VERDICT: MAYBE START COMPARING IT TO A LARGE COMPUTER OR iPAD OR SOMETHING.
STATEMENT: “You know folks, I hear my friends talk about [various campaign promises]. I’ve done it.” – Doug Ford
FACT-CHECK: Doug Ford is the one candidate I can believe is friends with neither candidate. The fact that this can be true at the same time that I believe John Tory is Doug’s friend is a paradox, which creates a tear or “rift” in the time-space-debate continuum. Fact-checking will become near impossible from here, and so I will leave you thusly.
VERDICT: LET’S HAVE THE ELECTION ALREADY, PLEASE.