Four federal candidates for the Winnipeg Centre riding squared off in a heated debate on Wednesday.

The Downtown Winnipeg Biz hosted the forum, which focused on issues important to the city’s core.

Hundreds packed the two hour discussion at Portage Place Shopping Centre.

Four candidates were present: NDP incumbent Pat Martin, the Green Party’s Don Woodstock, Liberal Robert-Falcon Ouellette, and the Communist Party’s Darrell Rankin.

The Conservative Party did not send candidate Allie Szarkiewicz.

Candidates traded personal and political jabs all night as they discussed five main topics.

Each candidate was given two minutes to answer a question about transit, affordable housing, crime prevention, mental health and addiction resources, and infrastructure.

One spectator enjoyed the debate, but said the contenders mostly towed the party line.

“Their policies are almost the same, you know. They’re offering lots of money and you don’t know where the money’s going to come from,” said Daniel Highway.

Highway said those promises are typical during an election, and hopes this riding’s winner will follow through.

“I think this group should have more transparency, more accountability and I think we should get more access to politicians,” he said.

But not everyone was impressed with the candidates’ behavior during the debate.

“I could hear things under breath coming out through the microphone and I was very disappointed to hear that from our elected officials,” said one forum attendee.

She said the debate helped her make a concrete decision about who to vote for in the upcoming election.

This was one of many debates across the country organized by Downtowns Canada.

The organization hopes to make city cores an election issue.

Canadians head to the polls on October 19th.