John Tory and Olivia Chow traded blows over transit, jets and youth employment at a debate hosted by CivicAction Sunday.

The two candidates shared the stage with fellow mayoral candidate Ari Goldkind at Evergreen Brick Works.

The debate was also attended by a number of youth candidates who were invited to participate in a question about the city’s high rate of youth unemployment.

Asked what they would do to fix the problem, Chow said she would implement a community benefits contract on major projects that would guarantee that young people are hired.

John Tory said he would go through his rolodex to help create jobs for young people and would also “use every rolodex I can find.”

The comment drew flak from Goldkind, who said that “calling friends” is not a solution to youth unemployment.

Youth candidate Matthew Crack, 24, said the city should invest in centres for social innovation to create jobs, while Morgan Baskin, 19, said youth employment doesn’t mean “jobs at the mall.”

Baskin said young people need on-the-job training and help creating careers for themselves.

The candidates were also asked during the debate how they would handle increasingly frequent extreme weather events like last year’s ice storm and flood.

Tory said he would focus on improving communications and said communication was not good during both of Toronto’s massive storms last year.

Chow said she would invest in tower renewal, light rail transit and better bus service to try and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Chow largely trained her fire on Tory, challenging him to take a position on the proposed expansion of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport to allow jets.

“Where do you stand on the island airport expansion,” Chow, who claims to be against the expansion, said to Tory.

Tory said he supports city council’s decision to seek more information on the matter before deciding.

Doug Ford absent from debate:

The debate comes just two days after the Fords shook up the mayoral race with Doug Ford’s announcement that he would run in place of his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, who is being treated for an abdominal tumour.

Doug Ford did not attend the debate Sunday but did visit his brother at Mount Sinai Hospital.

When asked about his platform Sunday afternoon, Doug Ford replied "stay tuned." Ford previously said he would be officially launching his campaign on Monday but would not confirm if he intends to participate in any of the upcoming debates.

Ford also refused to comment on when biopsy results are expected or whether his brother is on any medication but did say the mayor is in "a little bit of pain."

Emotionally, Doug Ford said the preliminary diagnosis has been "tough for everyone."

Ford's absence at the debate did not stop Tory from taking a shot at the new mayoral candidate.

Tory said the "Ford era" must come to an end.

“A Ford is a Ford. Have you driven one lately,” Tory quipped while speaking to reporters about how Doug Ford's entry would change the race.

"We are going to bring in a new breath of fresh air."

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