Mayoral debate rejigged due to scheduling conflicts

Two mayoral debates are planned for tonight in Toronto, leaving candidates and organizers to do some last-minute juggling.

Equity Toronto and the Good Jobs for All Coalition planned to host a debate at Innis Town Hall at University of Toronto’s downtown campus.  Instead, a series of individual interviews with candidates Rocco Rossi, Sarah Thomson, Joe Pantalone, George Smitherman, and Rocco Achampong will start at 8 p.m., moderated by John Tory.

Keynote speaker Hamlin Grange will take the stage at 7 p.m. to outline Toronto’s core equity issues as he sees them.

Rob Ford, meanwhile, currently the front-runner in the mayoralty race, will instead attend a cocktail reception and debate in North York, hosted by the Italian Business and Professional Association (IBPA), also beginning at 7 p.m.

Representatives at Ford’s City Council office today said he aware of the Equity debate, but couldn’t attend because of the scheduling conflict with IBPA.

Sarah Thomson confirmed today that she will attend attend both events, starting at the IBPA debate, then proceeding downtown to Innis for her interview at 8:30.

“Sarah confirmed with Equity first,” said her co-campaign manager Kinga Surma, who said they were contacted about the debate back in June. The IBPA event, meanwhile, was only confirmed “a month or two ago.”

Equity event organizers took it upon themselves to modify their night’s schedule, to accommodate candidates wishing to attend both events.

“It happens all the time that two events come up in the same evening,” Surma said. “We commit on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Equity representative Jessica Bell said that Ford’s decision not to attend their downtown debate “came as no surprise.”

“He never returned any of our calls or emails,” Bell said. “We weren’t ever expecting him.”