My first and overwhelming reaction to tonight's debate was that it was very poorly managed.
In the aftershow on CP24, a caller complained about this and the talking heads claimed that Gord Martineau did as well as could be expected with 5 candidates. However, anyone who has attended any of the other debates knows that it is indeed very possible to have good, lively discussion in which everyone has their say and they are no barking chimps in the audience.
Anyway, on to my thoughts on how things transpired...
John Tory had a good debate. He managed to avoid his weak spots -- incinerators in 416, connections to Mel Lastman's backroom, and connection to the downloading and amalgamating Queen's Park Tories -- and he had a fair chance to sell his platform.
Unfortunately for Tory, Jakobek and Nunziata also punched above their weight. Tom Jakobek, as I've mentioned before, sounds knowledgable and competent in debates. This can win him votes on the right. Nunziata wasn't very strong, but he looked better than he has in past events. Normally he sounds like he's running for class president, promising anything to whoever will listen.
Barbara Hall did decently in my view. (She didn't have long, drawn-out periods where she was muttering about nothing.) However, I don't know if she was strong enough to hold her standing. Adam Vaughn on CP24 felt she did poorly and called this a two-person race. She's not one of them.
David Miller had a rocky beginning. He's continuing to take heat on the road tolls issue. When he was asked to clarify, he hardly got a word out before the other four jumped all over him. He has really opened the door for the Tory machine to paint him in a bad light, and they're trying their hardest to do it.
Later, David did a much better job. He still didn't soar to the heights I've seen him reach in many previous events, but he made strong points about fighting corruption and creating our waterfront. I also think he did a good job of positioning himself as the mayor for the neighbourhoods. Many Torontonains who know why Toronto was once great know that it's because of the neighbourhoods, and the sort of neighbourhood-thinking that David Miller advocates.
I just wish he got a chance to say:
DISCLOSURE: After a serious decision-making process, I joined the Miller-for-mayor campaign a few weeks ago. However, all comments on this website are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of David Miller or his campaign. My role in the campaign is grunt-level and I haven't even met the strategists.