toronto mayoral debate

Hecklers add some spice to otherwise dull Toronto mayoral debate

Election debates are seldom entertaining at any level of government, but municipal politics truly take the cake when it comes to glazeoverability, at least in Toronto.

Maybe it's because these events often take place during standard work hours on week days. Maybe it's because they tend to feature the same few people saying the same things over and over again. Maybe it's simply hard for modern humans, with their short attention spans, to focus on nitty gritty policy discussions.

As important as municipal politics are (and they really are important), most people these days are less keen on sitting still for 90 minutes while mayoral candidates repeat talking points, than they are about watching quick, entertaining bursts on TikTok.

Say what you will about how it's sad. It's still true. And this is why hecklers are a gift to the very people they're trying to chide.

Today, the Toronto Region Board of Trade (TRBOT) hosted five mayoral candidates for their second and final debate of this election cycle, which culminates in voters heading to the polls next Monday, Oct. 24, at The Carlu.

With advance voter numbers and colloquial accounts suggesting a marked lack of interest in Toronto's forthcoming election, just generally speaking, it's no surprise that chatter surrounding today's debate was... light.

Until someone rushed the stage without permission to share his own thoughts, that is — and not just one person, but three throughout the course of the debate.

Adding some much-needed drama to an otherwise standard (read: dry) election debate, a fringe mayoral candidate named Reginald Tull made his way on stage during the debate alongside candidates Chloe Brown, Sarah Climenhaga, Gil Penalosa, Stephen Punwasi, and incumbent John Tory, who was speaking about business at the time.

At first, a man could be heard shouting in the background. 

"Excuse me," said moderator Steve Paikin, host of The Agenda, who had earlier joked that he would permit "no heckling unless it's incredibly witty."

"We said interruptions were allowed if they were witty, and that's just not witty enough."

Tull then got up on stage and stood next to Tory, who did not react while he was criticized about his handling of various city issues, before a security professional escorted him offstage.

Some on Twitter pointed out that Tull's Twitter account had been suspended, though it is unclear why. Tull, who is running for Mayor of Toronto, is also the author of a book called "Memoirs of a Bad Boy: A true story of a young man's struggles, incarceration, and redemption."

He was not the only person to interrupt this particular debate, however: Two more hecklers could be heard during the course of the 90-minute event, both shouting from the audience but not going so far as to jump up onstage.

Neither were visible on camera, but certainly added a level of spice — mild, but still there — to an otherwise mundane debate.

You can watch the entire thing here, if you're so inclined, and learn more about your options for voting in 2022's municipal election in Toronto here.

Lead photo by

The Agenda With Steve Paikin

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