Race takes centre stage at Toronto mayoral debate

WATCH: There was another mayoral debate tonight – but this one was different from most. Peter Kim reports.

Friday’s debate hosted by the Inner City Union was perhaps most noteworthy for what happened in the immediate minutes before and after the event.

“I’m letting it be known to the public, that we as black candidates…are not welcome to this table,” shouted Dionne Renee from the stage before the debate began.

After nearly 20 minutes of negotiations with debate organizers, Renee agreed to leave the stage following a brief speech to the crowd.

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“No candidate on the platform tonight relates to any issues that may or may not be raised tonight more than I would if you’re dealing with black people,” she said afterwards.

John Tory, Olivia Chow and Ari Goldkind were the only candidates participating in the debate at York Woods Library Theatre.

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Poverty, crime and police accountability were all issues candidates tackled during the evening.

READ MORE: Advance voting for Toronto’s municipal election begins Oct. 14

But it was a answer from Tory in a scrum following the debate that may have raised the most eyebrows.

Asked by Global Toronto reporter Peter Kim if “white privilege” still exists, Tory said the following:

“White privilege? No, I don’t know that it does. I think there are people left behind, and what I think they need is a hand up from people of all skin colours and religions and backgrounds.”

– With files from Peter Kim

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