As the curtain rose at the Toronto International Film Festival on Thursday, mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson promised to make the city more welcoming to filmmakers.

"I will roll out the red carpet, not the red tape," she said in an announcement.

"Media producers will be given hassle-free access to the tools and resources they need to explore location options. We will provide them with a Toronto film industry co-ordinator who will help producers through all aspects of filming in Toronto."

The city already offers a Toronto Film and Television Office, which didn't have a media spokesperson available for comment.

One change Thomson promises to make is finding an alternative to hiring paid-duty police officers to provide security around movie sets.

The leading mayoral candidates, who will face the voters on Oct. 25 in Toronto's municipal election, held a debate on the film industry on Wednesday evening. Thomson didn't attend, reportedly due to a communications mix-up with the organizers.

On Thursday afternoon, Trinity-Spadina NDP MP Olivia Chow endorsed Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) for mayor. Late last month, NDP Leader and Toronto-Danforth MP Jack Layton endorsed Pantalone.

Layton and Chow are husband and wife.

Most polling has had Pantalone, Thomson and Rocco Rossi close together but far behind former provincial cabinet minister George Smitherman and the frontrunner, Coun. Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North).

Rossi's budget promises

In other municipal election news,  Rossi promised Wednesday to cut the size of city council in half in the next election cycle -- a promise made months earlier by Ford.

However, Rossi said he would have four additional councillors elected at large to represent the four former boroughs:

  • Scarborough
  • Toronto/East York
  • North York
  • Etobicoke/York

"These four councillors elected at large will comprise, along with the mayor, the Board of Control for the City of Toronto," Rossi said.

"Under the leadership of Mayor Rossi they would be assigned the task of fixing City finances and dealing with other macro issues facing the City."

Since the positions wouldn't be elected until 2014, Rossi said he would appoint four councillors as deputy mayors to serve as his board of control. Each would represent one of the boroughs. "They would help guide and ensure that we're not just talking about local issues," he told reporters Wednesday night.

Rossi has also called for a freeze on discretionary spending and an independent audit. He would also revisit controversial decisions, such as city council's recent approval of a stacked, $88-million hockey arena building.

He would have the five cents collected per plastic bag go to the city and not retailers.

Mayoral candidate George Smitherman said Tuesday he would freeze spending and taxes for one year and would carry out a 100-day budget review.

Rossi criticized that approach, along with Smitherman's promise that he would serve as mayor and budget chief.

"George Smitherman wants to be budget chief, I want to be mayor," Rossi said. "He wants to review the budget line-by-line. I believe we need an 'auditor-general,' not a politician, to scrutinize the books."