There were plenty of zings but no knockout punches as incumbent mayor Sam Katz and challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis had the first chance to actually debate each other.
The two frontrunning mayoral candidates spent two hours this morning debating crime, transparency and each other's records before an audience of Red River College students at the institution's Princess Street campus.
Two previous mayoral forums saw Katz and Wasylycia-Leis begin with prepared statements and answer questions. This morning, moderator Richard Cloutier of radio station CJOB placed a focus and crime and justice issues, repeatingly asking Katz and Wasylycia-Leis if they supported a curfew for youths. Both candidates said no.
Katz, who appeared more comfortable with the open format, stressed his background as a businessperson and chided Wasylycia-Leis for picking "the low-hanging fruit" of raising property taxes to solve the city's revenue problems.
Wasylycia-Leis, who stumbled over a few questions, struck back at Katz for refusing to unveil a revenue plan.
The candidates also traded jabs over transparency. Wasylycia-Leis repeated her concerns about the city's wastewater contract with Veolia while Katz again demanded she disclose details of her spending while she served as the NDP MP for Winnipeg North.
Katz repeated that the Veolia contract has yet to be worked out and promised to release the details when it's finished. Wasylycia-Leis said Katz and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are welcome to go through the receipts, which she again said are sitting in boxes in her garage.
Katz quipped the Veolia contract is not in his garage. He also elicited boos and cheers for responding to a jab about Veolia by saying, "Thanks, Mom."
Wasylycia-Leis said she got used to sexist comments while she was in Ottawa. Katz said his comment was appropriate, given his opponent's scolding tone.
Both frontrunners, as well as Rav Gill and Brad Gross, will debate again tonight at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre. The debate, organized by Winnipeg Realtors and moderated by Kim Babij of Shaw Cable, will be live-streamed at Winnipegfreepress.com and broadcast by Shaw.
Watch a replay of the debate and review reporter Bartley Kives' Tweets and chat in the Cover it Live console.