Five of the six people running for mayor face off today at CBC Centre Stage from noon to 1 p.m. The event will be live-streamed on our website as well as broadcast on CBC Television in Edmonton.
The CBC mayoral candidate forum is the last major event of the campaign before the election on Oct. 21.
Here’s four points to keep in mind while you watch:
1. Unlike most of the other forums, the format at the CBC event will allow the candidates to interact directly with each other.
All forums so far have been relatively polite affairs. Either the candidates talk to groups of voters in a “speed-dating” format or they take turns answering a question posed to them from a moderator or audience member.
Today’s forum will follow a similar format as the lively event CBC held during last year’s Alberta election, with the four provincial party leaders engaging each other in discussion and debate.
Each candidate will have 45 seconds to answer the questions thrown at them. Then, remaining candidates can join in during the the next two minutes and a half minutes.
The “free for all” should reveal who the three front-runners think their main competition is. It may also reveal how they react under pressure.
2. This debate is the last before the election. Will the candidates change the strategies they’ve followed throughout the campaign?
The three main candidates – Kerry Diotte, Karen Leibovici and Don Iveson – have followed a familiar pattern throughout the campaign.
Diotte has portrayed himself as the fiscal conservative who wants to get back to financial basics after a decade of overspending.
At the city-run forum last week, he attacked Iveson for his inexperience and Leibovici for being a career politician and bureaucrat. He holds both responsible for the spending of the last decade.
Leibovici has emphasized her long experience as a social worker, MLA and councillor while Iveson has framed himself as the visionary candidate who wants great things for Edmonton.
In the last week, Leibovici has stepped up against her attacks against Iveson, stating his campaign promises will cost the city another $200 million.
In her latest blog post, she said the city is just more than its downtown – a somewhat veiled dig at Iveson.
For his part, Iveson has tried to position himself as the candidate who is taking the high road, insisting that he is running a positive campaign.
It could be interesting to see how he responds if one of his opponents goes after him during the debate.
3. Who will claim to have the most vision?
“Vision” is a word voters have heard a lot this election – an acknowledgement to the progress the city has made over the last decade.
Iveson speaks about vision and innovation so much that it has made him a target for attacks by Leibovici, who claims his ideas will cost the city more money.
Despite that, even fiscal hawk Kerry Diotte has slipped the word into his speeches about the need to focus on needs over wants.
His website tells voters that “his vision is your vision” – meaning a well-run city with low taxes and roads and drainage systems in good repair.
4. How will the mayoral candidates not currently on council make their mark?
Most of the forums organized by community organizations have excluded the three lesser-known candidates.
All six were invited to the three forums organized by Edmonton Elections, offering Gordon Ward, Josh Semotiuk and Kristine Acielo their biggest opportunity to make an impression on voters.
Every candidate was also invited to the CBC forum.
Ward and Semotiuk have confirmed they are taking part, but Acielo will be unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
Ward is a businessman who is running to improve how the city is run. Semotiuk is an electrician who has charmed forum crowds with his plain-spoken wit.
The CBC forum may offer these two candidates a last chance to make their plea to a large group of potential voters before election day.