A roundtable discussion took place at city hall on Monday night involving nine people seeking to be the next mayor of Toronto.
Each of the participants was given five minutes at the start of the roundtable to talk about their campaigns. They spoke in alphabetical order at the event, which was organized by the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada.
Morgan Baskin was the first to speak. The high-school student said she is "not here as a joke," but because she wants to make youth issues a part of the conversation in the election.
"I’m here because youth issues need to be included," she said emphatically. "I need to live in this city and I need to live with the decisions being made in this building and often I will have to pay for the decisions being made in this building with my future taxes. Please don’t download the problems onto me and my peers."
Olivia Chow, who resigned as the MP for Trinity-Spadina so that she could pursue a mayoral run, talked about her determination to "make this city even better," as well as her breadth of experience in politics.
"I have experience here at city hall, as a school trustee, a city councillor and as a member of Parliament," she said.
Chow also spoke about the need to tackle youth unemployment in Toronto — something she has also talked about on the campaign trail.
She also pointed to a need for a new mayor.
"It’s time for change. Rob Ford, more of the same — I don't think so," Chow said. "And we don’t need Rob Ford’s worn-out policies either. It’s time for a new mayor, it’s time for a better city."
Ford, the incumbent, was not present at the round table on Monday night. He is currently away from his job, seeking treatment for substance abuse.
Dewitt Lee was the third candidate to speak. He said he was thankful for the opportunity to address the media and to go up against the higher profile candidates that the "mainstream media" had declared as the "frontrunners."
A city 'that has a heart'
Lee talked about the need for the city to help entrepreneurs and to encourage its business sector. But he also wants Toronto to be a place that helps people in need.
"I want this city to be the kind of city that has a heart," he said.
Michael Nicula said he lives in the Trinity-Spadina ward, where Chow resigned her seat.
Identifying himself as the president of the Party for Accountability, Competency and Transparency — a federally registered political party — Nicula went on to criticize Chow for stepping down before the end of her term as an MP.
"She quit her seat with a year to go and we are paying for it," Nicula said.
He also suggested that there was "grey corruption" within the City of Toronto.
Erwin Sniedzins said that he had lived much of his life in Toronto's Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood and spoke about some of his working experience — including as a manager at Xerox.
"I’m very pleased and happy to be here and thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to present my fringe candidacy," he said jokingly when starting out his introduction.
Former city councillor David Soknacki said he wanted to be mayor so that he could make change and not so that he could "make excuses."
Soknacki was one of the first people in the city to register for the mayoral race.
Stintz cites 'decision making' experience
Coun. Karen Stintz spoke about her experience as a councillor and in "decision making."
She said that she was the only councillor present at the round table who has been on council for the past 11 years.
"I've been in the trenches," Stintz said at one point, referring to her work at Toronto City Hall with the use of a war analogy.
Sarah Thomson, who is in the midst of her second mayoral run, followed Stintz.
Thomson said that she ran for mayor in 2010, but has remained engaged in civic issues ever since.
Speaking about her platform, Thomson talked about the need for tolls to help fund needed transit improvements, saying she was "sick and tired" of hearing from politicians too timid to tackle this issue of transit funding.
"Unless we have the funding in place, it will never get done," she said.
John Tory, who is also pursuing a mayoral bid for the second time in his life, was the ninth of the candidates to speak at the roundtable.
Next, the candidates were to take questions.
More than 50 people have registered for the mayoral race this fall. The election is five months from Tuesday.
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