After two months of quiet, we've picked up where we left off.
On Wednesday night, the Canadian Tamil Congress hosted a mayoral debate at the Global Kingdom Ministries mega-church in central Scarborough. The first all-candidates event since Mayor Rob Ford returned from rehab, it was as though he'd never gone away.
It was a shitshow.
Three of the five candidates (Ford, Olivia Chow, and John Tory) brought their own cheering sections. The other two (David Soknacki and Karen Stintz) simply showed up and hoped for the best.
The thing with cheering sections, however, is that they also function as jeering sections, and on this night, supporters of both Ford and Tory were especially loud and angry.
It was at times a depressing, dispiriting exercise.
"If we have light rail transit, there will be a transit stop across the street," Soknacki proclaimed to a thick chorus of boos.
"I will create jobs for young people. We'll expand after-school activities for our kids," promised Chow, as she was met with a similar response.
But, hey, there are worse things than people getting passionate about politics.
Here are the highlights of last night's debate - and, uh, a video of anti-Ford and pro-Ford demonstrators nearly coming to blows:
Best result of two months of workshopping new lines
Chow: Rob Ford isn't going to resign. So join me in firing him!
Best case made to a remarkably hostile crowd
Soknacki, on why LRT makes sense for Scarborough: A plan that is supported by our planners. A plan that serves the most people at the least cost. That's what transit's all about. It's not about me or any other candidate here drawing lines on the map. That's the surest way to create cynicism, it's the surest way to create unemployment, and it's the surest way not to build transit. What you need, is you need a plan that has already been approved. That's funded by the government. That's ready to go forward and without a tax increase. Out here in Scarborough, it's seven stops. As I said before, it's a stop across the road! For heaven's sakes! If you were a parishioner here, you could take this and go to Malvern. You would never be able to do that if you had the subway. The official transit planners said as much. They said that it's unlikely to get transit out into northeast Scarborough. For heaven's sakes! I live in Scarborough, I'm proud to live in Scarborough. LRT is the best for Scarborough, and by using that money [left over from building an LRT as opposed to a subway], it's the best everywhere else!
Best Ford likes his chicken spicy
Ford: Rob Ford is going to build subways. He is not deviating from that brand.
Best saying what Chow's been saying for months, but doing it better
Tory, to Ford: We have that nagging allergy to the truth cropping up again. 'Cause you said you actually hired more police officers, and in fact the police service today has fewer bodies on the job than when you started as mayor. Let's start with those jobs, and then let's move on to the other jobs. You made the greatest speech of a complacent leader that I've ever heard. A complacent non-leader. You said this stuff was all in great shape, when in fact we have 10 per cent unemployment in this city, higher than the national average, as it has been for a long time. Twenty per cent unemployment among young people. You talked about the 53,000 jobs that you said have been created under your leadership, or maybe it was 58. The bottom line is, it's a lot less than the 83,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who are not in school, not in training, and not working. And I would say that is not a city that is booming, sir! And that you should have a lot greater ambition than be so satisfied with what's gone on in this city with all those people out of work and losing hope because you're so satisfied that this city is booming. Not for them, sir.
Best effort to re-orient discussion of the budget
Soknacki: I just don't believe what I'm hearing up here. The largest item in any line budget - in the hundreds of millions of dollars - [is] police salaries and benefits. It's 92 per cent of the police budget. You know, ladies and gentlemen, you could cut all of libraries. You could cut all of the community programs. And it won't touch anything but the growth we've seen in the police and the emergency services budgets. Unless you address those budgets - unless you look at those budgets long and hard - you're not gonna have room to create the city we know and love and want for the future.
Chow, explaining why Ford and Tory aren't in the best position to criticize her use of office budgets: You know what? I'm not a millionaire like both of you.
Best setting an obvious trap for herself
Stintz: John, I have to say I find it a little bit ironic that you would suggest that you're in the best position to do something at City Hall, and yet you're the only person on the stage that actually has no experience at City Hall. When I think about Rob and I, we've been there 11 years - battling Miller, battling the unions, battling budgets, fighting for subways, working with governments, working with each other, working with Council. And you've not been there. And I don't think you've ever been at City Hall, so I don't understand why you think you're in the best position to bring consensus and get things done when in fact you have no track record.
Tory: Karen, with the greatest of respect: I guess I would say that if the 11 years you've spent and the other years other people have spent there have been so terrific in terms of getting things done, why do we have a traffic congestion crisis in this city? Why do we have a transit problem? Why is unemployment running above the national average?
Best shit, man, he's on fire tonight
Tory, to Ford: I will say that on your watch, we saw the Sony Centre go tens of millions of dollars over budget. We saw the Nathan Phillips Square upgrade go tens of millions of dollars over budget. Union Station - tens of millions of dollars over budget. Project after project after project on your watch. When you're the mayor! And then you say you've got everything under control down there. You have no idea. We know what you were doing, but it wasn't managing the taxpayers' money.
Best wait, what does she think the question is?
Moderator Chris Selley, reading an audience-submitted query: The question is, "Please speak to your position on ensuring responsible councillor spending. What further measures would you take on ensuring accountability on councillor budgets?" And that will go straight to Olivia Chow for one minute.
Chow: Well, one thing I won't do is like what Mr. Ford did, was trying to abolish free programs on our poorest kids. And I do not believe that is a good way to go, or try to close libraries, which you have tried. And responsible spending means that you have the courage to make the right decision, often listening to the experts. Under Mr. Ford, you decided to fire the former CEO of the TTC because he wouldn't agree with him on TTC projects. What I wouldn't do is to waste a billion dollars on doing the train services below ground and asking people to wait four more years in Scarborough. That's what I wouldn't do, that's a billion dollars. In terms of the Scarborough... (Takes a better look at the question on the screen) The question is, the councillor budget is actually minuscule in the ten-billion-dollar budget of the city, and I do not believe there are any great deals of waste in there.
Selley: You got there eventually.
Best Rogers board member who's apparently never signed up for Rogers
Tory: Look at your dealings you have with the City. And ask yourself whether there's a more archaic organization anywhere in terms of having you fill out all kinds of papers and then take them to some window and having somebody process them, compared to doing business online.
Best oh no she didn't
Chow: Well, Mr. Ford, even when you're clean and sober, you can't stick to the truth.
Best so it's come to this
Shirtless Horde leader John Furr (confusingly wearing a shirt), was speaking with the media when a Ford supporter walked over and waved a "FORD NATION" flag just behind his head.
Things quickly escalated: