A Cambridge pizzeria served as the backdrop for Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford’s announcement that, if elected, his party would cut Ontario’s small business tax.

“When you spend time in small-town Ontario, it’s clear that small businesses are the lifeblood of their communities,” Ford said during a Thursday afternoon event at Capri Pizza on Dundas Street.

Ford announced that his party plans to reduce the amount of taxes the province levies on small businesses by 8.7 per cent.

This would leave the small business tax rate at 3.2 per cent, down from its current 3.5 per cent. The rate was cut from 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent earlier this year.

The small business tax rate applies to the first $500,000 of income earned by any business with taxable capital of less than $10 million.

Ford said the cut would help create jobs. The NDP have vowed to maintain the current small business tax rate, while the Liberals have not suggested they would raise or lower it.

Speaking to the media following his announcement, Ford was asked about the difference in how the Progressive Conservatives handled the situations of two prospective candidates from southwestern Ontario.

Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris was barred from running in the election by the PC party, which said it based its decision on the discovery of text messages “of a sexual nature” between Harris and a former intern.

A reporter questioned how that decision squared with Ford’s more recent choice to back Andrew Lawton, who is vying to win the London West riding for the PCs.

Lawton has been accused of making misogynistic, racist and homophobic comments. He recently issued a statement on the issue, saying he had been struggling with mental illness between 2005 and 2013.

“I was active on social media throughout much of this time, posting things that are so far removed from who I am and what I stand for that I can’t even fathom my frame of mind in writing them,” he said.

Ford said he backed Lawton because of his decision to apologize and his admission that he was struggling with mental health issues.

“We have a big tent. We welcome everyone inside that tent,” he said.

Pressed on why Harris was not welcome in that tent, Ford replied “You’re going to have to ask Michael Harris that.”

The PC leader was scheduled to be in Kitchener Thursday evening for a rally with supporters.

With files from The Canadian Press