Mayoral candidates support recreation, not as sure about rapid transit in CBC debate

Winnipeg mayoral candidates debated crime and safety, transportation, and their vision for Winnipeg's future at CBC Manitoba Thursday night.
CBC hosting Winnipeg mayoral debate — and you can ask the candidates questions (CBC)

Mayoral candidates debated crime and safety, transportation, and their vision for Winnipeg's future at CBC Manitoba Thursday night.

All eight candidates — Ed Ackerman, Brian Bowman, Tim Diack, Umar Hayat, Venkat Machiraju, Jenny Motkaluk, Doug Wilson and Don Woodstock — participated. 

Paddle round 

How candidates voted — yes or no — on CBC's four quick questions: 

QUESTION 1: Should we put put bike infrastructure on the back burner in our car city? 

YES: Motkaluk, Machiraju
NO: Ackerman, Wilson, Hayat, Woodstock, Diack, Bowman

QUESTION 2: After completing construction that has already started on the Southwest Transitway, should we scrap the rest of rapid transit?  

YES: Machiraju, Motkaluk.
NO: Woodstock, Bowman, Hayat, Ackerman.
MAYBE: Wilson, Diack​.

QUESTION 3: Is it time for a major reinvestment in fixing up our aging recreation centres?

YES: all eight candidates.

QUESTION 4: Should we reopen Portage and Main to pedestrians?

NO: 7/8 candidates.
YES: Bowman. 

The topics for Thursday's debate were identified as key election issues for Winnipeggers in a recent Probe Research poll commissioned by CBC Manitoba.

One in three respondents said crime was the issue that mattered most the them, while 25 per cent of respondents said repairing existing roads and bridges was the city issue they cared most about.

A lot of Winnipeggers likely haven't had time to make it out to one of the mayoral debates held around the city, so this was a good opportunity for the candidates to show people who they are and what they represent, said Aaron Moore, an associate professor in the department of political science at the University of Winnipeg who is an expert on municipal politics and governance.

To win the debate Thursday, incumbent Brian Bowman needed to stay the course and avoid courting controversy, Moore said. 

"And otherwise just act like he's the mayor and he's the incumbent and should be re-elected as a result," he said. 

Jenny Motkaluk, who is perceived as Bowman's main rival, needed to focus on communicating her proposals and setting herself apart from Bowman rather than attacking him, said Moore.

"I think that only plays to the people who already plan to vote for her," he said. 

"If she actually wants to challenge the mayor, she's going to need to start convincing people that she has policies that can differentiate herself from the mayor and that people can buy into."

Have a question for the candidates? Email CBC Manitoba and we'll try to ask it in the last half hour of the debate.