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TORONTO: Olivia Chow is told to go back to China during mayoral debate

September 23, 2014 Updated : September 23, 2014 | 10:05 pm

Doug Ford spent much of his first mayoral debate characterizing frontrunner John Tory as an elitist.

The debate at York Memorial C.I. was held in front of a rowdy crowd Tuesday evening.

Answering the first question — what separates the candidates from each other — Doug Ford said he was the only candidate who supports building “subways, subways, subways.” He then took a shot Olivia Chow and Tory, claiming he is the only candidate willing to stand up against the “special interests working on their campaigns.”

“You two live downtown, you’ve got subways. It’s about fair and equitable transit across the city, not a two-tiered system,” said Ford.

Ford, whose father Doug Ford Sr. was an MPP and left him a successful business, attacked Tory by calling him an elitist. “Outside of this election, when have you actually gone into Toronto Community Housing?” he asked Tory.

When Tory replied by mentioning times that he has been to TCHC buildings, Ford said he hadn’t seen him there.

During a section of the debate on affordable childcare, Ford told Tory that no Toronto mayor has ever been elected without serving on council first — but Tory is used to getting what he wants. “I know you’re used to getting everything handed to you with a silver platter,” he said.

Tory retorted that Ford’s poor attendance at council meetings was “a disgrace.”

Chow reminded both the question they were asked had been about affordable childcare.

The candidates were asked about youth violence in a question that referenced Hamid Aminzada, who was stabbed to death at his school, North Albion Collegiate Institute, that afternoon.

All of the candidates gave their condolences.

Ford and Tory said that youth need jobs. “They need mentorship and also they need a job to put money in their pocket and keep busy,” said Ford.

Tory replied that there has been a toll disproportionately taken on young black and minority men. He also said that youth needed jobs, and his SmartTrack plan would help with employment. “We have to bring jobs to those people, to those neighbourhoods.”

Chow said that the deaths are tragic. “We need to look at the root causes,” she said. She said Aminzada was from Rexdale, and that her transit plan would serve his area best.

The audience at the York South Weston community associations debate was loud and frequently yelled over the candidates.

A scuffle broke out before the candidates arrived. Someone crumpled a poster held by audience member Genevieve Tran that depicted Rob and Doug Ford as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

Soon after the debate began it took a quick hiatus as police escorted protester Iola Fontino, who started shouting about bibles in schools and making homophobic comments about the Pride parade.

One heckler interrupted Chow, who was born in Hong Kong, to tell her to “Go back to China.”

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