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Final mayoral forum nearly derailed by candidate outburst over format

The third mayoral forum broke down in disarray within minutes of starting Wednesday after one candidate objected that questions would be chosen randomly through a ticket system and alleged the system was stacked in favour of one candidate.

Voters will select a mayor and city council on Monday

Mayoral candidate Ron Cousineau stirred up controversy early in Wednesday's mayoral forum by protesting the ticketing system used to randomly select audience questions. (CBC)

The third mayoral forum broke down in disarray within minutes of starting Wednesday after one candidate objected that questions would be chosen randomly through a ticket system and alleged the system was stacked in favour of one Edmonton candidate. 

"At least 100 or more people came to me after the last forum and told me they felt the forum was rigged," Ron Cousineau said.

"They thought the questions were weak, generic, and censored," he said. "They also felt one candidate knew what the questions were before they were asked.

"I have to agree with them. I felt the same way. I thought it was rigged," he said.

Instead of lining up at an open microphone, people who wanted to ask a question on Wednesday had to get a ticket, which was drawn from a bowl by moderator Dave Robertson.

Some audience members joined in Cousineau's disagreement with the process, leading Robertson to threaten to call a recess as Cousineau walked off the stage. 

"It's all about you, it's all about you," candidate Carla Frost shouted back at Robertson. 

Cousineau returned to his seat moments later.

The moderator finally settled the issue by putting the issue to a vote. A vast majority of audience members said they wanted to follow the rules set by the city. 

Mayor Don Iveson is running for a second term in office. He is being challenged by 12 people: Cousineau, Frost, Taz Bouchier, Mike Butler, Don Koziak, Bob Ligertwood, Henry Mak, Fahad Mughal, Gordon Nikolic, Steve Shewchuk, Neil Stephens, and Justin Thomas.

The previous debates have seen skirmishes between candidates, and some far-out policy suggestions.

Voters will choose a mayor, city councillors and public and separate school trustees on Monday.

About the Author

Michelle Bellefontaine

Reporter/Web editor

Michelle Bellefontaine covers the Alberta legislature in Edmonton. She has also worked as a reporter in the Maritimes and in northern Canada. You can reach her at michelle.bellefontaine @cbc.ca.