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Tory House Leader roasted at CBC forum

Federal Conservative candidate for York-Simcoe Peter Van Loan took a drubbing over the late release of the Conservative party platform at an all-candidates debate held Tuesday night (Oct. 7) at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto.

Moderator Andy Barrie, who hosts CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, kicked-off the forum telling the crowd: “The Tories just released their platform today, so anyone who voted in the advance polls wasn’t quite sure what they were voting for.”

The advance polls opened on Oct. 3 and ended Oct. 6, a day before the Tories announced their election platform.

Barrie claimed his comment was non-partisan, but Liberal Bob Rae (Toronto Centre) picked up the thread: “They were waiting for a translation from the original Australian,” Rae said, referring to recent reports that parts of a speech given by then Opposition Leader Stephen Harper in 2003 were plagiarized.

Rae revealed last week that Harper’s speech, urging Canada to join ‘the coalition of willing’ in Iraq, was lifted verbatim from a speech given two days prior by Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Rae’s short barb prompted the loudest laughter of the evening from the 400-strong crowd of onlookers.

York West candidate for the Greens Nick Capra got in on the act a little later during a segment on the candidates’ vision for Toronto.

“You came out with a platform a week before an election?” said Capra to Conservative Van Loan. “What kind of a vision is that? That isn’t a vision.”

But in comments after the debate, Van Loan, who is the Government House Leader, said his party has been releasing the platform slowly over the course of the campaign.

“The platform you’ve seen is a compilation of all the planks that we have been unveiling,” said Van Loan.

“Every single day the prime minister has laid out a new plank in the platform. As he builds it, the platform is to a large extent a compilation of updates, with additional elements that were in the announcement today.”

Also at the debate was NDP candidate for Trinity-Spadina Olivia Chow.