Rob Ford, Olivia Chow, David Soknacki and John Tory participated in a spirited debate at the Toronto Board of Trade on Thursday afternoon.

The debate was lively early on, with Ford and Tory trading barbs from adjacent podiums.

On the first question, candidates were asked what qualities would make a good mayor.

Tory said "someone who can work with others" and stop the division between downtown and outlying areas of the city. That was a jab at Ford, who has been ignored by Premier Kathleen Wynne's office since last fall when council voted to strip Ford of many of his powers.

Ford tried to pin Tory down about his record as leader of the provincial Progressive Conservatives.

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Mayoral candidates Olivia Chow, David Soknacki and John Tory debate at Greenwood Community Centre, on Sept. 2, 2014. (CBC)

"You didn't save any money," Ford charged. "I was the opposition leader," Tory replied, a comeback that raised laughter from the audience.

Chow used a question about integrity to say that Ford should have put his assets in a "blind trust" to avoid any conflict of interest. Ford has been under fire for not excluding himself from making decisions that have affected Deco Labels, his family's printing business.

Ford insisted Deco has not benefited "one iota" from council decisions.

Ford has missed two consecutive debates, opting to host a fundraiser and go door-knocking instead. This is the first time he's debating with other front-runners since Karen Stintz dropped out of the race.

The debate looks to address several areas of the mayoral race, including how the new chief magistrate will:

  • Build regional transportation.
  • Promote job creation and economic co-ordination in Toronto and across the region.
  • Ensure we have the financial resources to upgrade and maintain the services and infrastructure needed to support our growing city and region.
  • Narrow the gap between the most and least affluent parts of the region.

The election is on Oct. 27.