Doug Ford’s “unexplained absences” at mayoral debates has prompted frontrunner John Tory to reconsider whether he will be participating in future debates.

In a written statement released Wednesday night, Tory’s team said they will review debates on a “case-by-case basis” to decide if the mayoral candidate should attend ones that don’t exclusively feature all three main candidates.

John Tory and Olivia Chow have participated in a handful of debates this week, however, Doug Ford has only attended one debate since he entered the mayoral race in place of his ailing brother on Sept. 12.

“John Tory has attended nearly 30 debates since the campaign began, four this week so far, and will attend three more before this week it out. He looks forward to attending more,” the statement said.

“However, the unexplained absence of Doug Ford from most of these debates, and at others, last minute rule changes, including additions and deletions to the debating roster, raise questions about the productiveness of these discussions,” his campaign said.

Tory’s team acknowledged that debates are an “important part of the democratic process,” but said that preparing for them diverts a significant amount of time from other campaign priorities.

“Doug Ford’s decision to skip debates provides him with an immense advantage, especially considering that the election is less than five weeks away,” the statement said.

“Toronto can’t afford four more years of Ford. The issues facing our city- including traffic gridlock and transit congestion- are too serious. As a campaign, we will not continue to disadvantage ourselves to Doug Ford’s benefit.”

Chow calls Tory’s decision “arrogant”:

At a news conference Thursday morning, Olivia Chow accused Tory of “running and hiding from ordinary people.”

“Mr. Tory said just yesterday that the debates were very productive. It was a good exchange of ideas. Now he says, ‘Well maybe not,’” Chow told reporters.

“You expect that kind of behaviour from Doug Ford. What is surprising is that Mr. Tory is taking a page from Mr. Ford’s playbook.”

Tory upset debate organizers earlier this month when he pulled out of two debates, hosted by the TTCRiders and the Waterfront Business Improvement Area, at the last minute.

“Mr. Tory didn’t want to answer the question whether he supports jets or not so he decided not to go. I mean that’s just not fair,” she said.

“Stop picking and choosing who you will speak to and attend all the debates.”