Speaking of the mayoral election…

Toronto’s media came out in force to cover a debate among the five leading mayoral candidates Sept. 17 at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Three of the candidates – Barbara Hall, John Nunziata and John Tory – earned their law degrees at Osgoode. Newspaper, radio and television coverage spotlighted moments in the debate, especially when opponents turned on frontrunner Hall, and aired post-debate interviews on issues ranging from homelessness to Tom Jakobek’s legal challenge against Hall for illegal pre-election fundraising.

Here is a sampling of newspaper coverage Sept. 18:

  • The Globe and Mail said Toronto’s mayoral race turned scrappy for a change, with front-runner Barbara Hall bearing the brunt of the attacks. She was in the hot-seat from the opening question from the audience of about 300 at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School when she was challenged to defend the legality of “Friends of Barbara Hall.” The group raised and spent $107,000 last year, before Hall launched her campaign on Jan. 2, to assess the merits of her running to replace Mayor Mel Lastman on Nov. 10. The focus on the Friends group comes as a judge is due to rule today on a request made by Hall’s lawyers to quash a private prosecution launched by mayoral rival Tom Jakobek. Because of the way the Osgoode Hall mayoral debate was set up, all of Hall’s rivals had a chance to answer the question, too – and they took advantage of the opportunity. “Barbara Hall cheated,” declared John Nunziata, the former MP. “It’s clear she was campaigning. She wanted a head start.”
  • The National Post focused on Nunziata’s allegation that rivals David Miller and Hall have formed a secret alliance that will see Miller drop out of the race and serve as deputy mayor if Hall is elected. Nunziata revealed his theory after the debate. During the debate, Miller challenged Nunziata on a piece of anti-abortion legislation that Nunziata introduced as a federal Liberal MP in 1989. The private member’s bill called for women who sought an abortion to face two years in prison while a doctor who performed an abortion would be imprisoned for life.
  • The Toronto Star said the race to become Toronto’s mayor is getting nastier, as the challengers have blamed Hall for everything from homeless deaths to the waterfront’s wall of condos, and have even accused her of cheating. With no incumbent in the race, Hall has been touting her experience from 1994 to 1997, when she was mayor of the former city of Toronto. At the debate yesterday, Nunziata launched into a serious attack over the Friends group.
  • The Toronto Sun headline read “Mayoral rivals bash Barbara” and the story began: The knives were out for frontrunner Barbara Hall yesterday with four of her closest rivals slashing her verbally for getting a “head start” in Toronto’s mayoralty race. “Barbara Hall cheated, what she did is wrong,” former MP John Nunziata told the audience during the all-candidates’ debate at York University.  

Here are samples of radio and television coverage of the debate Sept. 17 :

  • Barbara Hall was accused of campaigning illegally and replied that she was in compliance with the law and has more integrity than Tom Jakobek; Nunziata said the people of Toronto have lost confidence in the ability of politicians at city hall to govern in the public interest; and David Miller accused John Nunziata of being an extremist in how he intends to deal with the homeless, reported “680 News” (CFTR-AM).
  • Hall suggested all levels of government need to work together on the issue of homelessness; candidates accused Hall of cheating by starting her campaign too early, violating the Elections Act; and Miller said Nunziata is an extremist for his position on the homeless, reported CFRB-AM’s “Six O`Clock News,” “John Moore Show” and “News.” “Global News” (CIII-TV) also mentioned the debate.

Class size not the only factor in student success

There are more students per teacher in Canadian high schools than any other Western developed nation, reported the Toronto Star Sept. 18. With almost 18 students per teacher – nearly two more than in the United States and three more than the United Kingdom – Canada outstripped teacher-student ratios in 28 of 30 countries ranked recently by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Paul Axelrod, dean of York’s Faculty of Education, said class size is an important factor in student success, but not the only one. “I think it’s reassuring, to some degree [that students performed well on OECD tests],” he said. “It suggests that in Canada we are doing some things that are right, that the quality of education compares relatively well. We can still do better, and want to be certain that we don’t do worse for lack of appropriate resources.”

On air (provincial election edition):

  • David Barrows, policy professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, discussed how the key issue emerging from the Ontario election campaign is the province’s economy and the feasibility of candidates’ promises, on CBC TV’s “Provincial Canada Now,” Ottawa, Sept. 17.
  • Political scientist Patrick Monahan, dean of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, discussed the provincial election, on “VR Land News” (CKVR-TV), Barrie, Sept. 17.
  • Rob Macdonald, associate dean of York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, discussed the reliance of coal burning power plants, an issue raised in the provincial election, on CBC TV’s “Canada Now” in Toronto, Sept. 17.