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The Globe and Mail

Sarah Thomson enters Toronto mayoral race, pushes highway tolls

Sarah Thomson officially entered the race for Toronto mayoralty on March 20, 2014.

Jill Mahoney for the Globe and Mail

Former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson jumped into the crowded race to lead Toronto on Thursday, saying her transit focus gives her a chance of a come-from-behind victory.

Arriving at City Hall in a horse-drawn carriage, Ms. Thomson said she was an early voice on Mayor Rob Ford's substance abuse issues after accusing him of groping her while intoxicated at a public event a year ago.

"Let's get this straight: Last year I came out and I told people, 'Lookit, I think he's on some sort of substance and he has an issue'. And I'm glad the news came out," she said. "We all know that I was telling the truth on all that."

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Wearing her signature dreadlocks, Ms. Thomson said she chose a horse and buggy to arrive at City Hall to file her registration papers to highlight that Toronto had made transportation strides in the past, but is now stalled on the public transit issue.

Ms. Thomson said she would prioritize building a downtown relief subway line before any other transit expansion and would charge tolls for suburban commuters who use the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to drive to work in Toronto.

"We need tolls. I'm standing behind tolls on the Gardiner and DVP," she said.

After a downtown relief line is built, Ms. Thomson said she supports an underground LRT line in Scarborough.

Ms. Thomson, who is publisher of the Women's Post and chairwoman of the Toronto Transit Alliance, said she planned to remain in the race until voting day but would "never say never," unlike in 2010 when she withdrew early. She also said she expects to be included in mayoral debates.

"I'm in this to win this," she said. "Last time, I pulled out because we ran out of money and I've really lined up my ducks."

When asked for her response to those who consider her a fringe candidate, Ms. Thomson said: "I got to third place in the last race."

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A reporter interjected: "Hold on, you dropped out the race."

Ms. Thomson clarified: "I got to third place in the polls in June, 17, I was third place."

When a reporter noted that a poll result is not the same as finishing third on voting day, Ms. Thomson said: "I'm sorry. I made a mistake. I got to third place in the polls at one point before I ran out of money."

Ms. Thomson, her husband and two children entered City Hall to the sounds of Serena Ryder blasting from a boom box carried by a supporter. However, a security guard asked them to turn the music off as they walked through the lobby.  Ms. Thomson also asked to take a selfie of herself with journalists, but was turned down.

After filing her papers, Ms. Thomson told reporters she will run a more authentic campaign than she did four years ago, when she submitted to a makeover by her advisers.

"It wasn't me. It didn't feel authentic, it didn't feel real. And I did learn over the years, you know, it's about keeping it real. People want me, they don't want whatever the makeover does," she said. "So my campaign, you're going to get me. … I won't be scripted. I'm saying what I feel is in my heart."

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