Mayoral candidate Andrew Haydon walked out of city council chambers Monday night, calling the first all-candidate's debate ridiculous.

"This ain't democracy," said Haydon, who was frustrated by the format of the debate organized by the Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy Group.

After the candidates were asked a number of questions through a moderator, audience members were given the opportunity to ask their own questions -- but they had to select only two candidates to answer.

The format, which was designed to help the public get in as many questions as possible, was one that frustrated some of the lesser-known candidates.

"This evening, there's a few of us that have not been given the chance to be questioned, a chance to be heard," said mayoral candidate Robin Lawrence.

O'Brien vs. Watson

The debate largely turned into a sparing session between Mayor Larry O'Brien and high-profile candidate Jim Watson.

O'Brien attacked Watson's leadership when he was mayor of pre-amalgamated Ottawa, criticizing his financial record.

"I've got pages of documents that clearly indicate that nothing was achieved and anything that was achieved in terms of finance was in fact slight of financial hand," O'Brien said.

"Larry, the fact of the matter is that every year you've been mayor, you've left a deficit," responded Watson.

Social housing

The issues ranged from leadership to taxes to public housing.

On social housing, one woman asked: "Once you get us into the housing, what do you do to help us get out? What do you do to help us be a part of regular society?"

Candidate Mike Maguire responded: "If I had my choice right now, I would look at a program to sell off as much of this housing stock that we own because we're a very, very poor landlord."

Like-minded council?

O'Brien also took the opportunity to urge residents to vote for like-minded councillors when they cast their ballots on Oct. 25.

"We want to make sure that this election, that you remember the mayor has one vote, but you my friends have two. Make the second one count, get a group of like-minded councillors around this table," said O'Brien.

But not all candidates support O'Brien's push.

"You want a council with like-members? Do you really want everyone to be the same, to be cloned?" Haydon asked early in the debate.

"The mayor is the chief executive officer of this corporation. The chief administrative officer and all of the staff report to the CEO. The CEO can fire the CAO if he wishes; the mayor is a lot more than one vote. So, I'll leave that thought there with you," said candidate Clive Doucet.

The Ottawa Taxpayer Advocacy Group plans to analyze the debate and declare a winner in the next few days. The next mayoral debate will be hosted by Metroland Media at the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman