The Etobicoke-Lakeshore byelection set for Thursday is a provincial race that everyone at Toronto's city hall will be watching.

The two apparent front-runners — Liberal candidate Peter Milczyn and Conservative candidate Doug Holyday — are both prominent city councillors, and Mayor Rob Ford's open campaigning for Holyday has become an issue in itself.

Meanwhile, the NDP candidate, P.C. Choo, said the race is reminiscent of a 1994 vote he won against two supposed front-runners when he became a public school trustee.

Holyday, who is the deputy mayor, said he has no issues with Ford's support or how it might impact the relationship between the province and the city. Even if the Conservatives win all five upcoming Ontario byelections, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will still be in power with a minority government.

"I fully expect the mayor to support me," he told CBC host Matt Galloway on Metro Morning Wednesday. "I've supported him."

He said any souring of the relationship between the city and the province would be the fault of the Liberals, who sent out a flyer criticizing the Fords during the campaign.

Milczyn, a member of the mayor's executive committee, has been critical of Ford's involvement in the campaign. But he told Galloway on Wednesday that he's not concerned about it. "At the end of the day that might be helping me," he said.

Talking points

The candidates for the three main parties debated at a forum on social policy Tuesday night, fielding questions from the audience about issues such as poverty.

But CBC's Queen's Park reporter Genevieve Tomney said they used every opportunity to focus on the talking points that they hope will win votes.

Holyday referred to Liberal scandals involving eHealth and cancelled gas plants, while Milczyn questioned whether the Conservatives had a plan to back up their call for change.

Milczyn said scandals haven't dogged him as he knocks door-to-door. "I only hear about gas plants maybe one door in 20," he said. "It's not the first topic of conversation."

Choo said both candidates are "fixated on their party's program of austerity and cuts" and that the NDP is the alternative to the two city hall veterans.

The Green Party is also fielding a candidate: Angela Salewsky.