Occupy Vancouver protesters disrupted a mayoral candidates' debate Tuesday, with one demonstrator storming the stage and shouting in incumbent mayor Gregor Robertson's face.

Darrell Zimmerman, an independent mayoral candidate living in the tent city behind the Vancouver Art Gallery, made his way on stage carrying a plush toy lobster after Occupy protesters began standing up and yelling over Robertson and Non-Partisan Association Coun. Suzanne Anton.

"This is a democracy," Zimmerman, who was wearing a T-shirt, baseball cap and sunglasses, called out from the stage. "I have as much right to speak as anybody else."

When the activist and saxophone player made a move towards Anton, Robertson blocked his path. Zimmerman responded by yelling at the Vision mayor and waving the lobster in his face.

Zimmerman was escorted off stage by security, but not before promising "housing for everybody" if elected.

The Occupy movement has already proven a hot-button campaign issue, with both candidates expressing their intent to put an end to the tent city that has remained on West Georgia Street since Oct. 15. But Robertson and Anton's approaches may vary.

"We want a peaceful resolution to take place," Robertson said at Tuesday's debate, telling protesters "it is your right to protest… it is not your right to have an encampment in our downtown."

The mayor has not issued a deadline for when he'd like the space emptied.

Anton has called the persistent protest site a failure of Robertson's leadership, saying she would put a quick end to the movement in Vancouver if elected. "I'll give them a week's notice and they'll have to be gone," Anton said.

The candidate did not say how she would evacuate the Art Gallery property if protesters refused to leave.

Lauren Gill, an Occupy participant, said she's not interested in negotiating with either candidate. "I think we shouldn't be negotiating. I think we should be making very clear demands," Gill said.

The protest has cost more than $500,000 in policing and other costs to the city, most of which were incurred during a large protest on the launch of the movement.