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Saskatoon mayoral candidates meet in first debate of 2020 civic election

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WATCH: The candidates to be the next mayor of Saskatoon met Wednesday to debate their visions for the future of the city – Oct 14, 2020

The six men vying to be the next mayor of Saskatoon met for their first debate on Wednesday, though very little debate took place.

The Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce hosted the event and used a format where host Jason Aebig, CEO of the chamber, drew two names from a bowl. The first candidate answered the question, and the second candidate responded to the answer.

It took 75 minutes for incumbent Charlie Clark and challenger Rob Norris to have any direct interaction, when Norris was asked whether he supported the newly-opened supervised consumption site run by Prairie Harm Reduction.

Read more: How Saskatoon’s mayoral candidates say they’ll improve safety in the city

“This is an important pilot project,” Norris replied.

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“It’s important that individuals are allowed to meet their full potential and this is a tool that has the potential to help our community.”

“I have spoken to the (provincial) health minister and said, ‘we need you to fund this safe consumption site,’” Clark told the crowd of 50 people at TCU Place.

Clark said he would continue to communicate with the provincial and federal governments to advocate for the site.

Read more: Saskatoon mayoral candidates share platforms ahead of municipal election

All statements, answers and responses were limited to two minutes or less, meaning there was little time to engage with points raised by other candidates.

They often reverted to repeating points from their platform.

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“When the funding stops from the federal government, what are we going to do then? What are people going to do about their rents? Their mortgage payments?” asked Don Atchison.

“This is a very, very difficult situation and starting at [a] zero [per cent tax increase] is the right place to be.”

Read more: Saskatoon mayoral candidates clash on bus rapid transit plans

The format meant candidates only addressed a few topics, like the future of the Lighthouse-supported living shelter.

Zubair Sheikh, Mark Zielke and Cary Tarasoff all said they believed it should be moved or at least decentralized.

“There were some things said that I would have liked to have been able to speak about and respond to.” Clark said afterwards, acknowledging time was evenly shared between the six candidates.

“We’ll have some more forums coming up and a chance to see how they unfold.”

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