London mayoral candidates clash over job creation, poverty in debate

(From left to right) Candidates Ed Holder, Paul Paolatto, Tanya Park, and Paul Cheng attend the second and final mayoral debate hosted by 980 CFPL on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.
(From left to right) Candidates Ed Holder, Paul Paolatto, Tanya Park, and Paul Cheng attend the second and final mayoral debate hosted by 980 CFPL on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Matthew Trevithick / 980 CFPL

Four of the leading candidates to become London’s next mayor squared off on a variety of topics during the second and final mayoral debate hosted by 980 CFPL on Thursday morning.

Ward 13 Coun. Tanya Park, former police services board chair Paul Paolatto, former Conservative MP Ed Holder, and businessman Paul Cheng attended the event inside the studios of 380 Wellington St. and moderated by 980 CFPL talk show host Craig Needles.

READ MORE: London mayoral candidates talk transportation during debate

While the first debate focused primarily on transportation, most specifically London’s current bus rapid transit plan, this debate covered a wide array of other topics including leadership, job creation and poverty.

One of the fiery moments happened early on in the debate, as Holder challenged Cheng to release an updated version of his resume.

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“I hear talking about again, and you know what? We’re all in a job interview, and when you’re in a job interview, it’s a current job interview with a current resume, that [previous resume] may have been presented four years ago to this radio station… what’s the updated resume look like? Present it today, Paul,” said Holder.

“It hasn’t changed, my business record is still the same,” replied Cheng. “You haven’t done anything in the last four years?” questioned Holder.

When the candidates were challenged to provide examples that demonstrate their leadership capabilities, Park discussed how she fought to improve the current BRT plan.

“I fought tooth and nail to create the cuplet in the rapid transit plan so we could protect those loading docks in front of Budweiser Gardens and Covent Garden Market because it’s critically important that those accesses to those buildings are there,” she said.

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Paolatto commended Park on her example, but criticized the current council for failing to quickly approve the latest police services budget.

“It was by far the best deal, and then we spent the next nine months debating with the city over an arbitration settlement that could have been solved back in the first month, and at a huge cost to the taxpayer,” he said. “That to me was a disappointment because if the leadership had been there, we could have resolved this matter in a couple of hours.”

As the candidates talked about their plans for job creation, Paolatto and Holder took shots at each other’s business records.

“Look, ask those 100 people that we’ve employed at Stevenson-Hunt how important their jobs are to them and their families, that’s critically important to them, but I’ve done that, and I’ve mentored business growth in this community for my 37 years,” he said before Paolatto interjected.

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“I have a series of testimonials on my website, I have testimonials on my website that speak to my job creation successes,” said Paolatto. “I see no testimonials but one on your website.” Paolatto criticized Holder for talking about his experience without providing solutions to problems.

Holder chastised Paolatto’s “negative tone,” and insisted that if you want to see what people do in the future, look at what they’ve done in the past.

READ MORE: Mayoral contenders engage future voters in all-candidates meeting at London Children’s Museum

Setting the conversation focus back on job creation, Park emphasized the need for greater supports for blue-collar vocations.

“We need to work with the province and labour to talk about why the ratios for apprenticeships needs to be increased because every community in Ontario is facing the same challenges when it comes to talent deficits,” she said.

Cheng agreed that more needs to be done to support trades and apprenticeships. “Fanshawe [College] is doing a fabulous job,” he said. “They are offering the apprenticeships to the industries and getting their kids what they need for experience, but we don’t have enough of it.”

The candidates also shared their views on ranked ballots, how to regulate brick-and-mortar cannabis shops in London, and building affordable housing.

Voting day for residents in the London municipal election is Oct. 22, but advance polls are also open until Oct. 13.