Doug Ford debate

Doug Ford debuts at wild mayoral debate

Doug Ford's first public debate as candidate for mayor was a raucous affair chock full of heated exchanges, crowd trouble, and bluster as the three leading candidates, John Tory, Doug Ford, and Olivia Chow, faced off in Ford-friendly territory, at York Memorial Collegiate at Eglinton and Keele.

Early in the evening, a heckler was removed from the auditorium after shouting at the candidates and refusing to sit down. Later, David Price, former aide to Rob Ford and "former participant in Doug Ford's hashish enterprise," was also told by police to stop interrupting. The crowd was loud throughout.

On transit, Doug Ford, like his brother, promised to build new subway lines. Olivia Chow promoted LRT lines in Scarborough while John Tory tried to build support for his SmartTrack plan, which involves retrofitting GO rail lines through downtown.

Doug Ford refused to say whether, as mayor, he'd attend the city's annual Pride parade. The Ford family have skipped the event in previous years, claiming an immovable prior engagement at the family cottage. Ford was also criticized for failing to reach the goals set by his brother over the last four years.

At one point, Ford zinged Tory by getting him to admit he didn't know which city committee handled purchasing. "You don't know because you don't have the experience," Ford said. He offered Tory his cellphone and asked if he'd like to call the mayor to find out. Chow said Tory would spend his time at city hall trying to find the elevators.

Surprisingly, Doug Ford said he supported building separated bike lanes. Chow said the Fords "ripped out a lot of existing bike lanes, whether it was Jarvis or other roads" during their time in office.

The debate came on the heels of a new Forum Research poll for the Toronto Star and Citytv that gives John Tory a seven point lead in the race (38 percent,) ahead of Doug Ford (31 percent.) The results put Olivia Chow in third at 25 percent. Last week, a poll for The Globe and Mail and CTV News suggested John Tory had 49 percent support among decided voters.

Yesterday, Rob Ford was released from Mount Sinai Hospital following his first round of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with a cancerous tumour.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo from Doug Ford's Facebook page

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