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.