The only televised leaders’ debate sparked a debate of its own.

Tuesday night, four political leaders squared off, answering questions from a panel of journalists and each other.

NDP Leader Greg Selinger, Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari, Green Party Leader James Beddome and Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister spoke about taxes, spending and health care.

But not everyone got the answers they wanted.

“We didn’t really get a debate on substance. It wasn’t really a debate, really. It was leaders presenting their positions,” said Université de Saint-Boniface political scientist Raymond Hébert.

“It’s not a debate when people don’t answer questions and that was the general tone, I think, of this debate.”

Selinger, Bokhari and Beddome all pounced on Pallister when the leaders got the chance to question each other.

“Any direct question to him, you never really got a direct answer,” said Bokhari after the debate.

The PC leader used his time to question Selinger on PST and taxes.

Mainstreet Research asked 998 Manitobans: who do you think did the better job in the debate?

Pallister polled highest with 44 per cent, followed by Selinger with 24 per cent, Beddome with 19 per cent and Bokhari with four per cent.

But Hébert saw the debate differently.

“Rana Bokhari, I think, was possibly the worst debater, in my view. And the best, irrespective of party, would be James Beddome, who I thought put in a very good performance,” he said.

Hébert said that Pallister was “a bit robotic in his responses” and said he stuck to his script.

He said Selinger seemed tired, and wasn’t as feisty as he has been over the years.

Many Manitobans online seemed to agree with Hébert.

One wrote:

Another said:

Beddome said after the debate that he has heard frustrations about other party leaders while door knocking.

“People are dissatisfied with all three of them. I’m hearing it time and time again,” said Beddome.

Beddome scored the highest favourable opinions in Mainstreet Research’s poll, with 49 per cent reporting a favourable opinion.

Pallister got 39 per cent favourable, Selinger got 25 per cent and Bokhari got 16 per cent.

When asked who will win the provincial election, 60 per cent of people picked Pallister.

The Mainstreet Research poll was conducted after the debate on Tuesday night.

Its margin of error is +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.