Mayoral candidates have their say at forum

Last Thursday evening, on October 9, WinnipegREALTORS® teamed up with media partner Shaw TV and presented the first live televised debate of this year’s civic election. All seven mayoral candidates were invited and for the over two-hour question-filled event. 
If you have not had the opportunity to see the mayoral forum, you can still catch it on Shaw Channel 9 on Sunday, October 19, from 8 to 10:30 a.m., or on October 21, from 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.  
Besides the candidates getting an opportunity to ask a question of another candidate, a media panel comprised of Bartley Kives of the Winnipeg Free Press, Marcy Markusa of CBC Information Radio and Colin Fast of Metro Winnipeg, directed questions to the candidates and followed up on the candidates’ responses. Global TV News anchor, Peter Chura , who moderated the evening’s proceedings, injected other questions. He also introduced a few Twitter and people on the street questions.
Advance Electronics provided two large-screen televisions which allowed the theatre audience and candidates the opportunity to see Twitter and video questions from the public.
An interesting twist to the candidate to candidate questions came from mayoral candidate Gord Steeves. Instead of directly asking Brian Bowman about his city sales tax proposal, which was seen as an alternative to levying property taxes, he asked Robert-Falcon Ouellette for his take on it. By the expression on their faces, it was obvious Steeves caught both candidates off guard.  
For the wily media panel, no matter how they asked the question, the answers, in their view were rehashed talking points, from previous events. However, you must keep in mind many Winnipeggers tuning in did not have the benefit of hearing all the candidate spiels.  
It is not always what the candidates said, but how they handled each question and presented themselves.
A new addition this time around was getting moderator Peter Chura to do a post-mortem, or debrief, with the media panelists. You can see their full account and assessment of the forum at Shaw TV’s YouTube channel. 
Are people more informed as a result of this forum? Marcy Markusa in response to this question from Peter Chura said an average Winnipegger would have come away with candidate differences on taxes, bus rapid transit and even some sensibility about a vision. As for who won, no there was no outright winner, but Steeves got some strong support. Markusa said Judy Wasylycia-Leis held her own and Kives felt Havixbeck was credible.
There is always the argument of not including all candidates based on polling information and the unlikelihood of a candidate being a contender for the mayor’s seat. Making a case for not being included in this year’s forum was mayoral candidate Michel Fillion. His opening remarks centred on having a mayor that will commit to building emergency air-raid sshelters. It sparked a to and fro with Markusa, who questioned him on this matter being in his opening statement. Fillion’s retort to her was that she better hope for air shelters when the bombs are falling down on her. 
Having said that, WinnipegREALTORS® has a long history of including all candidates, as it feels people who put their name on a ballot have a right to be heard. 
One clear difference this year was the media panel was under no illusion that all candidates deserve equal time. Nevertheless, questions were posed to all seven candidates.
Since 1992, WinnipegREALTORS® has been proud to give Winnipeggers the opportunity to see and hear points made by mayoral candidates so they, in turn, can make an informed decision on election day.  The 1992 forum featured a record-breaking slate of 17 candidates before a capacity audience of 1,400 at the Burton Cummings Theatre (formerly the Walker Theatre). It was quite an evening and included many audience questions on some issues that will never go away, such as property taxes.
Infrastructure has clearly grabbed this year’s civic election spotlight, and not surprising, given the magnitude of the considerable financial challenges to address road improvements and rapid transit. Getting city hall’s house in order is another big issue. Following the election, a new mayor and city council will be vested with the responsibility of tackling such issues on behalf of Winnipeggers.