Saturday, October 04, 2008

Tory candidates avoid debates

Cross-posted at The Stop Stephen Harper Blog.

With rare exception, I wonder where the media is on this. I also wonder if there are any numbers on this, in terms of how many Tory no shows there have been at all-candidates debates across Canada. Nevertheless, I did come across a couple of articles, one in the Toronto Star, and one in The Georgia Straight, Vancouver's alternative newsweekly.

From the Toronto Star:

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper was readying to take on opposition leaders in last night's nationally televised debate, several of his Conservative candidates were making themselves scarce at local debates.

From the North to the Atlantic provinces and the Prairies, Tory candidates have been missing at a number of encounters.

The latest Conservative no-shows covered four Ottawa-area debates, sponsored by Canada's largest public service union and a weekly newspaper, at least one debate in Saskatchewan and two others in Winnipeg and the Northwest Territories.

The scarcity of one Conservative at a riding debate prompted a Calgary CBC radio station to launch a contest to locate Rob Anders, the Conservative incumbent in Calgary West, to prove he was still alive.

A Liberal party list of Tory candidates who have refused to participate in debates had grown to 17 across Canada by yesterday, before the no-shows registered this week.

And according to The Georgia Straight, it's not only debates they are skipping, it's media interviews as well:
So far, there’s been an epidemic of missing-in-action Conservative candidates. Last week, the Straight contacted every female Conservative candidate from the Lower Mainland, and none replied by deadline.

This week, Vancouver South candidate Wai Young didn’t return a call to discuss more than $500,000 in federal contracts that she received from the Conservative government. The CBC reported that Surrey North candidate Dona Cadman used RCMP to block reporters. On September 25, neither of the Richmond Conservative hopefuls showed up for an all-candidates meeting hosted by the Canada Asia Pacific Business Association.

Canadians need to hear and know about this. Why are Con candidates being so evasive? What do they have to hide? What might they accidentally blurt out that they are not supposed to? What are they afraid of being asked? What policies are they afraid of having to try to explain? The Cons are running for re-election as a sitting government, and we damn well have a right to hold them to account.