Mayoral debate and forum on seniors' issues cancelled

A mayoral candidate forum and debate organized by nine seniors' organizations in Toronto is no longer going ahead as scheduled.

The event, scheduled for Monday morning in the rotunda of Metro Hall, would have featured five mayoral candidates including Mayor John Tory, Jennifer Keesmaat, Sarah Climenhaga, Saron Gebresellasi and Knia Singh. Issues pertinent to seniors, such as living in poverty, were set to be addressed. 

However, because of a longstanding city policy that requires all candidates to be invited when debates are held on city property, organizers were forced to cancel the event. 

In an email sent to NEWSTALK1010 media partner CP24 Sunday afternoon, the event sponsors said they had invited additional candidates to make a one-minute statement following a panel discussion, but there were certain candidates who they would not invite, including those "who espouse policies and beliefs that violate their organizations' core values and principles, and, for that matter, the City's anti-discrimination/anti-harassment and hate speech policies."

And while it may have been disappointing news to the more than 200 seniors who had registered to attend the event, Tory reaffirmed his stance on those candidates who were purposely not invited.

"I had indicated previously - and I stand by what I said - that I would not participate in debates in which Faith Goldy and James Sears, two people who are well known for white supremacist views, were present," he told reporters Sunday afternoon. 

Meantime, Jennifer Keesmaat's public relations team released a statement on her behalf. Keesmaat called it "unfortunate that [Monday's] debate could not proceed and that community groups have faced so many impediments to hosting Mayoral debates this cycle, including the potential presence of white supremacists." 

"Torontonians need to hear from the main contenders for the Mayor's chair and deserve to see a real head-to-head debate," the statement read.