Whatever happened to the “ALL Candidates Debate?”

It’s A Party – Whatever  Happened To The “ALL Candidates Debate?”

When it comes to democracy in Ontario, there is good news and bad news.

First, the good news. It is incredibly easy for a candidate  to get  on the ballot. All it takes is 25 signatures and it doesn’t  cost a dime.

Now, the bad news. It is almost  impossible for any but the main party candidates to be invited to participate in a candidates debate. In fact, there are  almost  NO “ALL Candidates Debates”. If you are running for the: Green Party (with the exception of the leaders debate), Liberal Party, NDP, or  Conservative  Party – it’s “Party Time”.  If you are not a member of one of these groups – in order  to participate in a debate -you have to “crash the party”.  That took  place this week in St. Catherines. The “parties were  also crashed” on September  20/11 in Toronto Danforth.

This took  place at the Toronto Danforth Education debate  (such as it was) on Tuesday September 20 at   Danforth Collegiate Institute.  It was  hosted  by Cathy Dandy (the local school trustee). It was  quite  apparent that  only the Greens,  Liberals, NDP and Conservatives  were  invited.  The  Conservative  candidate didn’t bother  to  show up. Fortunately, her seat did not  remain empty. Rather it was filled  by “Party Crasher” Kevin Clarke  who is  the leader of the newly formed  “Peoples Party of Ontario”. Mr. Clarke (following the script of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter “arrived early and stayed late”.) Although, Ms. Dandy did her  best to prevent Mr.  Clarke from  attending (requesting that  he leave  the stage”), eventually (like a good hostess after conferring with the other candidates) she allowed him to  participate.  Ms. Dandy doesn’t seem to understand that the debates are for the benefit of the residents of Toronto Danforth and not for  the benefits of the main political parties – including her own.  What followed was a rather “lack lustre” event, where  the candidates failed to answer the questions asked of them and repeated their  party platforms. This matched a rather “lack  lustre” turnout of approximately 40 attendees.

The practice  of  inviting only mainstream party candidates hurts the democratic process  in two ways:

First, the  main party candidates do not have  personal views. Rather they simply reiterate the party position. Party candidates  are  not permitted to have a position.

Second, the  rest of the candidates often do  have views and positions that are  directly responsive to  the community. Voters should not  be  deprived  of hearing these views.

Toronto Danforth Debates was founded to ensure that voters  can hear from all  the candidates. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday September  29 for  the only Toronto Danforth ALL Candidates Debate.


5 thoughts on “Whatever happened to the “ALL Candidates Debate?””

  1. For the last four months I have put my life on hold and worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day to establish the foundation of the Canadians’ Choice Party, and I am a candidate in the riding of Toronto-Centre. During the last three weeks, a number of debates have been organized in this riding, and I have not received any invitation from any of these organizers except one, in which the candidates from the three mainstream parties refrained from participating.

    After chasing after the organizers and requesting to be part of their debates, I managed to attend one in which I was given less than 3 minutes to speak in a two-hour debate, and most of the time was allocated to Liberal and NDP candidates, since the Conservative candidate declined his invitation.
    Then I got good news from CBC that I could get 2 minutes of free air time in English and French, for both TV and Radio broadcast. However my 2 minutes was aired just before 3AM.

    One of our candidates in St. Catharines was escorted out of the debate when he asked the organizers to respect the rights of all candidates, and asked to be heard by his constituents. And later he was accused by supporters of the mainstream parties of pulling a publicity stunt.

    Another Canadians’ Choice Party’s candidate, in the Toronto-Danforth riding, became proactive after being excluded from other debates. He took time out of his busy campaign and organized a debate himself. He invited all candidates, arranged a place, and presented an impartial moderator, to have his voice, and the others to be heard by his constituents. After all that hard work, two of the mainstream party candidates, the incumbent NDP and the Conservative, declined his invitation.

    It seems to me that mainstream party candidates have some sort of allergy to all other candidates, whether independent, or from up-start or fringe Parties. Or perhaps they are afraid they will be overwhelmed by the fresh perspectives of these individuals, who are ready and willing to work hard to participate in the process of direct and dynamic democracy.

    And as a consequence of these exclusions, constituents are deprived of exposure to the new talents, visions, ideas, abilities, and genuine commitment of these disenfranchised candidates. The exclusion of fringe party candidates and Independents from the local “All candidates debates” is not an isolated case and is unfortunately an epidemic practice across Ontario in this election.

    In Ontario, we can go to almost any supermarket and find over two dozen brands of cereals to choose from. Yet when it comes to our citizens’ daily lives and their destiny, voters are limited to a few choices. It is no wonder that in the 2007 Ontario election only 53% of Ontarians cast their votes, and the resulting 107 elected MPPs represent only 25% of the eligible voters for the last 4 years.

  2. The Canadian Action Party is a registered political party and should be treated as the main stream party’s for that reason, To register a political party it requires support in the way of signed declarations from no less than 250 members. This puts registered parties in a position of special importance.

  3. Jct: It’s important to realize that they don’t need to cheat the minor candidates all the time. Sure, let them attend meetings with 100 people, more than half usually party clappers for their guy, but don’t let them on TV where tens of thousands may see them. So they only have to cheat the little guys on big media events and not on the little ones and that way, the deluded voters think it’s a democracy even though a little reflection will conclude it cannot be when Big Brother controls the access to an undemocratic debate. And we can always count on Rogers and CPAC to give us more of the very same they give us every day. The “nothing new” networks of Canadian politics can always be counted to be promoting the same crew they always promote. Shame on Big Brother for running undemocratic debates and shame on the booboisie for thinking they had a real democratic choice. “More of the usual same, nothing new” is their mantra and the sheople don’t seem to notice. Of course, it does highlight the gutlessness and lack of sportsmanship of the candidates accepting the advantage of having their opponents cheated. Then again, Liberal, Tory, NDP, not noted for ethics anyway.

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