Mayoral candidates face off for last time before by-election

Jun 23, 2023 | News

Four mayoral candidates squared off in the last mayoral debate, focusing on public policy transparency, municipality strong mayor powers, and safety.

The “Meet Your Next Mayor!” debate at OCAD University Auditorium on June 22, 2023, saw Brad Bradford, Chloe Brown, Mitzie Hunter, and Josh Matlow battle before Monday’s by-election.

Candidates Olivia Chow, Ana Bailao, and Mark Saunders did not show up.

The debate was a re-scheduled arrangement for the June 1, 2023 event, which was cancelled because of a gun threat.

Bradford said the only way to strengthen the roles of residents in tackling difficulties the city has been facing, was having “boots on the ground.”

He said the community has guided the best decisions and changes, because citizens knew their streets best.

Brown said she learned from the German model of municipal governance that includes working class representation in policy making for public services.

Hunter said she has included in her plans on using technological tools, including online surveys, to have more interaction with people.

“So that we can hear more, not less, from residents’ associations, in advance of decisions being made, that affect your lives and your communities,” Hunter said.

Matlow said his approach to being the mayor will be the same as being a local councilor to get better results.

He said he will make sure local councillors follow their passion, and not just meet political appointments.

“I would make sure even though Doug Ford gave those democratic strong powers, that I would include councillors in decisions,” he said. “I will make sure they are engaged in those decisions.”

Bradford said he valued local councillors, and he will be having monthly meetings with them if he is elected. He will also be having “mayoral mandate letters,” which are “public transparent letters” that can hold them accountable to Torontonians, he said.

Brown said she also valued transparency, and she will be having open logs for Torontonians to follow up with councillors.

“You can order a Domino’s Pizza with better transparency you can get from public services,” she said. She said she would ensure councillors offer more than “basic customer service, and step into governance.”

Hunter said she would do the “heavy lifting” as the mayor by gathering resources that local councilors needed to serve their wards.

Candidates were asked about their views on jurisdictional autonomy, and what were some of the conditions necessary in using the strong mayor powers.

“I don’t like them, and I won’t use them,” Matlow said. “There’s no democracy in the world where the minority overrules the majority, that’s the antithesis on democracy.

“Shame on them forever, bringing that Toronto or other Ontario municipality,” he said.

Hunter said she also disagreed with strong mayor powers as she wanted people from Etobicoke, Scarborough, Downtown, Midtown to have a voice.

“I will not use them under any circumstances, and I fought against them as a provincial MPP,” Hunter said.

Brown shared the same view.

“I don’t really acknowledge the strong mayoral powers, because I’m objectively focused on getting my job done,” she said.

Bradford had a different stance, and said he “will use them, I will be a strong mayor of action.

“When it comes to housing, transit, and infrastructure that supports growth, we can’t afford delay that has become the hallmark of the city,” he said.

A newly released poll from Mainstreet Research showed Chow was still in the lead with 30 per cent support, while Bailao sat at second place, with 22 per cent support.

The by-election for Toronto mayor will take place on June 26, 2023.