No clear winner after leadership debate for PC members in Windsor

Tanya Granic Allen, Christine Elliott, Doug Ford and Caroline Mulroney gave their opinions on the carbon tax, education and minimum wage. The hour-long debate had local PC members watching intently.

After Thursday's debate, members of the PC party still haven't decided who they want as their leader

(Stacey Janzer/CBC)

The four candidates vying for the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership position debated their way through a variety of topics Thursday.

Tanya Granic Allen, Christine Elliott, Doug Ford and Caroline Mulroney gave their opinions on the carbon tax, education and minimum wage. The hour-long debate had local PC members watching intently.

Denise Ghanam

As a former federal PC candidate, Denise Ghanam wanted to see a more in-depth discussion.

"I believe that there was not a clear winner of the debate, but I think it definitely did give each candidate a chance to show their strengths and their weaknesses," she said.

There were a few surprises for Ghanam. She said one candidate was more contentious than the rest.

Former federal Progressive Conservative candidate Denise Ghanam wanted to see a more in-depth discussion during the first PC leadership debate. 0:34

"I think Tanya, a little bit more aggressive than I was expecting," she said. "Certainly strong and passionate about the things that she believes are important."

She found Elliott's experience came across well, but was surprised on Mulroney's tentative nature while answering questions. She said Ford was about what she expected.  

During the debate Ghanam said there was some talk about where candidates stand on cutting expenses, but she wanted to hear more.

"If we're not going that carbon tax route, if we're not in favour of those issues as a revenue generator, where do we anticipate those funds to come from and or where do we balance the budget with effective cuts in spending,"

It's something she's looking forward to hearing in the next few weeks. The focus for Ghanam is making sure her party picks a leader that can defeat the Liberals.

Andrew Dowie

Tecumseh Ward 1 Councillor Andrew Dowie said he was pleasantly surprised by the candidates.

"I thought every one of them had a passion for what they were speaking about, but there were clear, clear differences between the candidates," he said.

Knowing that, it's still a difficult decision for Dowie to know who he will pick for the party leadership.

Tecumseh Ward 1 Councilor Andrew Dowie was pleasantly surprised by the candidates. 0:32

"Everyone has their pros and cons," he said. "They have different approaches and different policy directions, so I think every party member will have the same considerations. You have to balance what you think Ontario needs with what you personally think Ontario needs."

For Dowie, Mulroney was the most clear on minimum wage. "She gave a schedule for the implementation for it."

Specifics are important for him, he said it's a credit for those who can stake their ground. Although some candidates were more clear than others, it was the lack of information on revenue that has him concerned.

"That's one area I hope to see developed more as these debates go on," Dowie said.

Massimo De Menech

A local marketing manager and member of the PC party, Massimo De Menech said he found that the four candidates wanted what's best for Ontario.

"As Denise was saying, some were a bit more aggressive than others, some were very calculated in how they were presenting themselves," he said.

The first debate seemed like a warm up for the candidates, said De Menech. He said the candidates are ready to prove that they are the best for the party and for Ontario.

A local marketing manager and member of the PC party, Massimo De Menech said he found that the four candidates wanted what's best for Ontario. 0:25

"Unless someone else puts their name in, one of the four candidates will be the best," he said.

Although during the debate there was no mention of Windsor and Essex county, De Menech hopes that we are seen as a priority for the candidates.

"I think for a leader they need to look out to the different regions of Ontario and not just be Toronto-centric," he said.

This first debate helped narrow the potential leadership candidates down to two for De Mench, but he still think it's not quite over yet.

"It will be a difficult choice for a lot of the PC members on March the 10th."