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Doug Ford vows to cut land transfer tax ‘right off the hop’

Doug Ford greets supporters as he arrives at Ford Fest in Toronto on Saturday September 27, 2014.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Doug Ford is continuing to target his attention at front-runner John Tory in the race to be Toronto mayor, releasing new radio ads directed at the former provincial PC leader and promising, if elected, to roll back the land transfer tax and speak up for often overlooked parts of the city such as Scarborough.

Mr. Ford, who faced Mr. Tory and his other main rival, Olivia Chow, in back-to-back debates Tuesday, promised the crowd gathered for an evening debate at a downtown church that he would cut the city's land transfer tax by 15 per cent as his first act as mayor.

"We are going to phase it out over a period of time," Mr. Ford said after the debate, promising more details Wednesday morning. "My proposal is 15 per cent right off the hop."

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His brother, Mayor Rob Ford, who pulled out of the race and is being treated for cancer, has long promised to do away with the tax, which brings the city about $350-million a year.

Mr. Tory responded saying the city needs to find savings or other revenue before it can eliminate the tax.

"You sure can't just do away with a $350-million stream of revenue that's presently used to pay for transit and pay for housing and pay for programs for kids and families without knowing where you are going to get the money from to replace it," he said.

Ms. Chow repeated her pledge to raise the land transfer tax by one percentage point for homes over $2-million.

With less than a month to go before the Oct. 27 election day, Mr. Ford continued to try and carve away Mr. Tory's support, especially in Ford Nation strongholds such as Scarborough.

"I have been fighting day in and day out for four years every day for the people of Scarborough. John Tory is nowhere to be found," Mr. Ford said after an afternoon debate. "It's Johnny-come-lately to Scarborough."

Mr. Tory, who polls show has support in all parts of the city, said it is time for Toronto to work together and stop the "false divisions" between the suburbs and downtown.

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Ms. Chow, trying to revive her flagging campaign, tried to set herself apart from her two right-leaning rivals. Sitting in the middle of the table at the evening event while the two men talked over her, Ms. Chow suggested a vote for her would end such bickering.

Mr. Ford's ads, released Tuesday, ask "what's the story, Mr. Tory," with one focusing on his election defeats in his 2003 run for mayor and in provincial races.

Mr. Tory brushed off the attacks, arguing Toronto residents want a break from the politics of division. "I just think that people are in the mood for a positive message," and his campaign is reflecting that, he said.

Ms. Chow drew a different conclusion: "Vote Olivia Chow for mayor because she won 10 elections," she said.

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Toronto City Hall bureau chief

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