Tory-Chow disability debate veers into transit, gets heated

John Tory and Olivia Chow debated on a variety of disability issues at the Ryerson Student Centre.

John Tory and Olivia Chow debated a variety of disability issues at the Student Campus Centre on Tuesday. (David Chen/Ryersonian Staff)

A mayoral debate on disability held at Ryerson on Monday turned heated as candidates John Tory and Olivia Chow veered off-course into transit.

The two candidates began the debate at the Student Campus Centre relatively courteous toward each other — until Chow accused the Tory-backed Scarborough Subway expansion of taking funds away from disability projects on the TTC.

She promises to reinstate those funds should she get elected.

“I will continue to be polite,” Tory said calmly in response. “(But) it is ridiculous to say that the money meant for accessibility was redirected to the Scarborough subway.”

He argued that Chow had been loosely making promises with the $1 billion from the subway expansion.

“She has spent it by about five or six times in different ways across the city during the course of the election campaign,” he said.

“Today she’s spending it to speed up the timetable for accessibility.”

Tory also took the opportunity to plug his SmartTrack transit plan. He argued that all 22 of his SmartTrack stations would be accessible.

Tory eventually left the debate early, leaving Olivia Chow to answer a few questions on her own. She ended the debate by quoting a song from Sesame Street.

“One of these things is not like the others,” Chow said of herself.

“It’s because I am different than Mr. Ford and Mr. Tory. I believe that we need to invest now and to not leave anyone behind.”

Coun. Doug Ford, who entered the race last week to replace his brother — Mayor Rob Ford, who dropped out due to cancer — was invited to the debate, but did not attend.

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