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Toronto In last-minute reversal, Ford backs out of two mayoral debates

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford signs the third edition of "Robbie Bobbies" bobbleheads at his mother's home in Toronto on Monday, September 1, 2014. The bobbleheads sell for $30 each and have raised over $22,000 for charity.

Michelle Siu/CP

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford will be a no-show at two mayoral debates planned for this week, after dropping out at the 11th hour.

Jeff Silverstein, Mr. Ford's director of communications, confirmed on Monday evening that the mayor will not attend debates held by Greenwood Community Association on Tuesday and FilmOntario on Wednesday.

Mr. Silverstein cited scheduling reasons. "Things have come up," he said. "He'll be participating in a number of debates."

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Greenwood, a resident and business association representing the city's Danforth neighbourhood, used social media to vent its frustration over the sudden change in plans. The association also issued a statement Monday evening, saying it was "disrespectful" for Mr. Ford to cancel on such short notice.

Scott Bradley, a representative at Greenwood, said in an interview that the plan is to host a non-partisan event to give the mayoral candidates an opportunity to discuss their vision on three key municipal issues: transit, policing and safety.

"When [Mr. Ford] dropped out, it was no loss to us but it was last minute notice after a lot of work and planning with his team," Mr. Bradley said.

Mr. Silverstein initially confirmed on Aug. 11 that the mayor would be taking part in the debate, Mr. Bradley said. On Saturday, however, Mr. Silverstein notified Greenwood that his boss was pulling out.

"Rob Ford shows no respect for our community and cancels 3 days before the Mayoral Forum," Greenwood says in a posting on its Facebook page.

Mr. Bradley said Mr. Ford's three main rivals – Olivia Chow, John Tory and David Soknacki – all plan to attend Tuesday's debate.

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