Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wasted little time in taking aim at Progressive Conservative Leader Doug Ford in the #CityVote debate on Monday night.
If you missed the debate, watch it here.
Wynne and Horwath both landed glancing blows, warning that Ford will bring cuts to public services if he is elected premier while Ford continued to hammer home his key messages of finding efficiencies in the provincial budget and “respecting the taxpayers.”
However no one appeared to land that knock out punch and when it was all over, the consensus seemed to be that Ford did not do anything to blow it, Horwath may have swayed some Liberal voters who are thinking about strategic voting while Wynne still has an uphill battle.
The debate centered around issues and topics of importance to Toronto voters with questions on policing, carding, transit and real estate. While the debate was light on actual specifics, Ford did announce that he would commit $5-billion more than what has already been allocated to build a regional transportation system, including subways, relief lines, and two-way GO Transit to Niagara Falls.
However, Ford didn’t provide specifics on a number of other issues including a promise to cut four per cent from the budget.
The liveliest portions of the debate came during the three leader-to-leader questions. Both Andrea Horwath and Kathleen Wynne directed their questions towards Ford. Both questioned the PC leader on specifics of where the cuts were going to come from in order to find $6-billion in efficiencies.
Horwath wanted to know what Ford was going to privatize and how many hospitals he would close in order to meet his $6-billion goal.
“I believe there is a better way of delivering services. The differences between myself and my two opponents, they’ve never found a penny of savings,” said Ford. “We’ve found over a billion dollars of savings for the taxpayers,” trotting out the familiar line about saving the taxpayers of Toronto $1-billion when his brother Rob was the mayor — a claim that has been hotly contested.
Questioned further by Horwath to “have the guts to tell people what your cuts are going to look like,” Ford assured “all the teachers, all the nurses – no one single person is getting laid off under our administration. Not one person.”
If there was a misstep by Ford, it was during his leader-to-leader question to Wynne. After saying he truly believed she got into politics for the right reasons, he left her with an open ended question: When did you lose your way? That enabled the premier to highlight some of the successes of the past four years rather than be on the defensive.
Coming into the debate, polls suggested Ford was the front-runner and he likely didn’t do anything to hurt his standing.
However at the end of the #CityVote debate, an unscientific Twitter poll found 43 per cent would vote for Andrea Horwath with Doug Ford drawing 39 per cent support. Kathleen Wynne was well back with 14 per cent support.