March 8 Rogers “Some Candidates” Debate – Some thoughts

Twitter has arrived as a participant in the Toronto Danforth Debates. To see the discussion unfold from the perspective of the Green Party see the above tweets.

So, what happened? It was the only televised debate. The one hour debate included Grant Gordon, Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu and Craig Scott. Depending on your perspective these “main party” candidates were either the “main event” or the “warm up” for the five minutes of Christopher Porter and Bahman Yazdanfar at the end.

Watch the video of the debate here.

In any case, some thoughts:

1. Television or live debate: The medium of television (possibly coupled with a small group) favored Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu (firm command of the facts) and Craig Scott (firm command of the party). It was not helpful to Grant Gordon (much more philosophical in approach and less decisive in answers to questions). Furthermore, the absence of the other candidates clearly reduced the energy level and interest in the debate.

2. Leadership/vision vs. technicians: This debate seemed to focus much more on technical details and specific proposals (the result of the moderator) than previous debates. Examples: how exactly would you solve environmental problems? What exactly is your position on Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement, etc. The issue is much more one of leadership/direction and less of how exactly should this be done. I wouldn’t expect much from any of the candidates in this area. That said, Craig Scott (at least appeared) to be reasonably literate on the issues of pensions, etc.

3. A New Campaign Issue – The Issue of Seniors: The debates have so far focused on youth (nutrition, unemployment, mentoring, etc). Last night, for the first time, there was a focus on seniors and income security. That was interesting – they vote too. I was left with the impression that “seniors” are in trouble. Not a single candidate mentioned (what I think is the obvious solution) the importance of immigration. I.e. importing a younger demographic to be productive and to pay taxes. Now, “immigrants” as opposed to “immigration” have  been mentioned before (usually in the context of making sure that Canada utilizes the skills of immigrants – we don’t want doctors driving taxis). But, Canada needs to broaden its tax base. The only way to do this is to import more people.

4. Closing Statements – Revealed Lots About These Candidates:

Craig Scott: This is the party man. He is the NDP representative. He is the mechanism to vote for the NDP in Toronto Danforth. But, what somebody does is not the same as who they are. We know a lot about what Craig Scott does – law professor. But, who is he (beyond the NDP representative in Toronto Danforth)? If one is voting for a party, then who he is  really doesn’t matter.

Grant Gordon: He clearly sees this election as about choosing between the NDP and the Liberals (talks about a Red car and an Orange car). That was a mistake. This election is about electing an MP to represent and serve the needs of Toronto Danforth residents. It’s not about the party. It’s about the candidate.

Adriana Mugnatto-Hamu: This was a surprise. Her closing statement focused on the problem of “whipped votes” in Parliament. (A “whipped vote” is a vote where the party leader tells the MPs how to vote. Resistance is futile.) She explained the problems of the “whipped vote” (agreed) and then explained the Green Party allows its candidates to vote their conscience. The intended message was that: If you vote for Grant or Craig you will get an MP who takes orders from the Party Leader. If you vote Green, you will get an “Independent Candidate“. Speaking of Independent Candidates:

Bahman Yazandar (Independent Candidate) and Christopher Porter (Canadian Action Party) appeared at the end by themselves. They were segregated from the other three which was a bad idea. Christopher Porter continued his message of “direct democracy” (this means you should get out and vote). Bahman Yazdanfar took us through the arithmetic of what it takes to get a “majority government”. Put it this way: the Conservative Majority is the result of an extreme minority of voters.

Your thoughts?


6 thoughts on “March 8 Rogers “Some Candidates” Debate – Some thoughts”

  1. I found out that candidates from the mainstream parties will appear on Goldhawk LIVE just a day before the show from a constituent in the riding. It’s déjà vu again. Another election, another round of Independents and fringe party candidates excused from the debates by organizers. These candidate debates have become a sort of Catch 22! Those organizers who invite the mainstream Parties do not invite these disenfranchised candidates, and yet candidates from the main Parties do not show up to the debates where their organizers invite these so-called insignificant candidates to participate. That is very unfortunate for the process of democracy.

    As soon as I registered my name as an Independent Candidate with Elections Canada three weeks ago, I sent an e-mail to the producer of the Goldhawk LIVE announcing my candidacy and requested to be included in their debate. I did not receive an answer. However, I give him the benefit of the doubt that my e-mail might have been lost in the piles of e-mail he has received since then. I sent him another e-mail, left him a voice message, followed by a phone call and finally I got hold of him by the end of the day. I was told that I would be given a minute and a half of airtime to announce my message.

    In past elections, Independents and fringe party candidates were only given the same airtime at the end of Goldhawk LIVE and they were not allowed to participate in the debate with the mainstream Party candidates. In their studio they had four seats set up for the candidates from the mainstream Parties, NDP, Liberal, CPC, and Green. If anyone of these main candidates didn’t participate, his/her empty seat would have been filled by another candidate, such as an Independent.

    Last night the Conservative candidate did not show up and although I was there and I asked them to include me in the debate, I was told that they had only three seats set up and the studio is too small for four, even though they knew that I have been in the same studio and same set up four times in the last few years! Although there are eleven candidates running in this By-Election, there were only five who showed up at Rogers, and they could easily have facilitated all of them or at least four of them, which they chose not do!

    It seems to me that the organizers of these debates have forgotten that elections are about the people and not the mainstream political Parties. People have the intelligence to take responsibility for their choices and in this case for the person for whom they vote. The last thing they need is to have bureaucrats limiting their choices.

    Unfortunately, the electorate is being exposed to few choices, the mainstream party candidates, by way of an advertising, network, or by creating an image, temporarily of course, in the media to seduce the public into voting for them. It is like watching a magic show, three unknown people from the mainstream Parties pop up and show their badge (logo), play their tricks, without any real substance, and the next thing the electorate casts his/her vote for the party name on the ballot.

    Independents and fringe Party Candidates are trying to raise the bar in our democracy; they would like to request voters to consent to continue sending their messages to Ottawa. This way, they can continue to preserve and sustain a transparent government. When it comes to representation, Independents understand that relationships make the difference with their constituents, the very same thing that has been forgotten by MPs from the mainstream Parties.

    The important question for media, organizers of debates/meetings, and most importantly for the mainstream Party candidates is: how can democracy be exercised if electorate does not know what choices available to them?

  2. What a farce ! The Canadian Action Party is a registered Party just like the others, This is not a free democracy at all. The media is under the control of the same people the main stream political parties are, The banks and corporate media control the process by who they let you see on TV. This is an outrage.

    1. Well put – When the Municipal/Toronto elections were going on there was particular interest in the campaign for mayor. I made the point that there were (broadly speaking) two kinds of candidates:

      1. Media Created Candidates – poof, you are considered to be a serious candidate (this would have been any city councilor); and

      2. Real Candidates – the ones that had broad support regardless of the media. Rob Ford was certainly not a creation of the media – he had broad support – that’s why he won.

      Given that there were only five people there, Mr. Porter and Mr. Yazandar should have participated with the other three. Interestingly in the live debates, the fringe and independent candidates have supplied more energy and interest than the main party candidates.

  3. Jct: Another ROGERS “not-all candidates debate.” You can always count on Rogers to make sure you’ll learn nothing new. If you like the same old faces, same old politics, if you like nothing challenging, Rogers is the channel for you. Har har har har. Crooked politics right on TV with the major party candidates willing to have their opponents cheated. So you’re not going to hear about the cancers on the way due to Fukushima and what you can do to save yourselves. When you start dying, remember who didn’t tell you about the high-tech candidate talking about what you do to save yourselves from the nuclear fallout we downwind Canadians have all been bathed in. Just remember when dying time comes around that it was the media who didn’t tell you how to save yourselves. Har har har.

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