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Atwood or Doug Ford: Who would you rather dine with?

Author Margaret Atwood meets with members of the Globe and Mail's editorial board to talk about culture and upcoming federal election.

Fred Lum/Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Two clashing groups have launched competitions within days of each other to give Torontonians a shot at dining with Doug Ford or Margaret Atwood.

The latest contest, announced by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition on Monday, has a grand prize of lunching with Mr. Ford, city councillor and brother of the mayor.

To enter, contestants need to finish the sentence, "Lower taxes are good for Toronto because..." in an essay under 500 words or a two-minute video.

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The challenge was launched after the Our Public Library group announced its own essay and video competition last Thursday. One of its prizes is dining with author Ms. Atwood, who has spoken out about the possibility of tax cuts closing libraries.

To enter the library contest, participants submit an essay or video on the topic of "Why my library matters to me."

Maureen O'Reilly, president of the Toronto Public Library workers' union and one of the library contest's organizers, said the coalition is making a mockery out of her contest.

"Certainly we don't have contests wrapped up. But to launch one with all of our main elements in it, is absurd," she said.

"It certainly patterns our contest almost exactly," she said, noting that the main difference aside from topic is that the tax one doesn't have a kids version.

However, the Toronto Taxpayer Coalition's president denies his group launched the contest in response to the other group's competition.

"We would have had this contest regardless of what other groups would have done," Matthew McGuire said. "This is different because our contest is wide open, it's for all taxpayers in Toronto who believe in lower taxes...We're not looking to pick a few specific issues, we want to cast a wide net."

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He said submissions will be sent to city council's executive committee so they can read and watch what taxpayers have to say.

More prizes will be announced later this week, Mr. McGuire said. So far Toronto Sun columnist Sue-Ann Levy has been added to the list of lunch date prizes. Restaurants will be chosen by the celebrities, he said, and meals will be paid for by the coalition, which is funded by donations.

Mr. Ford did not respond to interview requests on Monday evening.

Submissions to the taxpayer contest are due Sept. 10, one day after the library competition's deadline.

Ms. O'Reilly said she's not worried that the tax competition could take away interest from hers.

"Imitation is the best form of flattery," she said.

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