The two frontrunners identified in a new poll in the byelection race in Etobicoke-Lakeshore participated in a lively all-candidates debate Thursday night.

The event, moderated by John Tory, allowed the six candidates in attendance the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions on a number of topics, including transportation, infrastructure, health care and fiscal management to the crowd of roughly 250 in attendance.

“It was a good, healthy exercise in democracy,” Tory told CP24 following the meeting. “The room was engaged on all sides. I’m not sure there was a winner.”

Liberal candidate Peter Milczyn, who represents the area municipally, is going head-to-head with Coun. Doug Holyday, a former mayor of Etobicoke who represents Etobicoke Centre on council and is running for the Progressive Conservatives.

The new Forum Research poll shows Milczyn carrying a lead in the race with 45 per cent support, versus 39 per cent for Holyday.

The poll indicates NDP candidate P.C. Choo would take eleven per cent of the vote, while Green candidate Angela Salewsky would take just six per cent.

"This is by no means a decisive lead for the Liberal candidate, but it looks like Laurel Broten's legacy has a chance in this riding," said Forum Research president Lorne Bozinoff.

The seat was vacated last month when Liberal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Laurel Broten announced she was stepping down and relocating her family to Halifax.

Broten has held the seat for the Liberals since 2003, winning three elections with comfortable margins each time.

The race is one of five provincial byelections that will take place Aug. 1 following the resignations of a number of high-ranking Liberal MPPs. Other byelections are set to take place in Scarborough-Guildwood, London West, Ottawa South and Windsor-Tecumseh.

The Liberals are keen to hang on to the seats, conscious that they could be an indication of voter confidence in the province amid a nagging scandal relating to two gas plants cancelled during the last general election.

The Progressive Conservatives, eager to garner a Toronto area foothold, have enlisted Holyday as a star candidate with name recognition.

Half believe councillors should resign to run in other elections

In a separate question, the poll also found that half of respondents believe city councillors should have to resign their seats in order to run in another election.

Both Holyday and Milczyn have taken temporary, unpaid leaves of absence from council as they campaign for the provincial seat.

Whoever loses the seat will be able to return to their council job. It will then be up to city council to set a municipal byelection to replace the winner.

This is Holyday’s second run for provincial office. He ran an unsuccessful bid for a provincial seat as a Progressive Conservative candidate in 1987. He served as mayor of Etobicoke from 1994 to 1998 until the city was amalgamated with Toronto. He has served as a councillor since then and as deputy mayor since 2010.

Milczyn has represented his Etobicoke-Lakeshore ward at city council since 2000.

The poll, conducted by Forum Research, surveyed 334 voters in the riding from July 8 to July 9. It is considered accurate to with plus or minus six per cent, 19 times out of 20.