Tonight’s mayoral debate has been cancelled as police hunt for a man who allegedly threatened this morning to shoot candidates this morning.
The cancellation comes after at least two candidates said they will not make public appearances in their campaigns to to become Toronto’s next mayor.
Josh Matlow and Brad Bradford both announced today they pausing appearances until police catch their suspect.
They are the only two candidates known to have responded in this fashion to the news of the threatened violence so far.
— Brad Bradford✌️ (@BradMBradford) June 1, 2023
Olivia Chow, however, may have been the candidate closest to where and when the incident occurred.
Toronto police say they were called at 10:44 a.m. to the area of Greenwood and Mortimer avenues where a man had reportedly entered an unspecified building and brandished what appeared to be a firearm.
The man allegedly made threatening remarks about shooting Toronto mayoral candidates.
Chow was scheduled to put up her first campaign sign and talk to media on Logan Avenue south of Danforth Avenue today at 10 a.m.
This afternoon, Chow released a brief statement saying she has been made aware of the threat, but she did not indicate she was taking any immediate action.
“Moments like these can be unsettling for people involved in the election,” she said in the statement. “Like you, we are still learning more and I want to assure you that my family, my campaign team and volunteers are safe.”
Sadly, there has been a serious threat made toward candidates running in the mayoral election. We have closed our campaign office until the police advise that the suspect has been apprehended. I have also told the organizers of tonight’s debate that we will not be attending…
— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) June 1, 2023
Candidate Ana Bailao tweeted at about 7 p.m. she had been informed of the threats when she attended the Pride flag-raising ceremony at City Hall shortly after noon hour.
“Police were clear I could continue going about my day and I went on to make a housing announcement,” she said.
“I will continue all my campaign activities because I will never be intimidated as a candidate or as your Mayor,” Bailou said in the tweet.
Police are looking for a man they have identified as Junior Francois Lavagesse, 29, of Toronto.
Two photos of the suspect have been released.
He is described as 6-foot-1, weighing 180 lbs., and having black hair in locks.
The suspect is wanted for threatening bodily harm, carrying a concealed weapon, and having a dangerous weapon, police said.
“He should be considered armed and dangerous,” according to a police news release.
Anyone seeing him should not approach him but should call 911, police said.
This story was updated since the original report to include Ana Bailou’s comments.