Keeping the Voters Dumb: Brantford Establishment Excludes Smaller Parties for “All Candidates” Debate
Excluded candidates cry foul
Some registered provincial election candidates in Brantford-Brant riding are objecting to being excluded from an all-candidates meeting.
A televised debate Monday night organized by the Chamber of Commerce Brantford-Brant and Rogers TV featured Progressive Conservative candidate Will Bouma, Ken Burns of the Green Party, New Democrat Alex Felsky, Libertarian Rob Ferguson and Liberal Ruby Toor.
Shortly before the two-hour debate was to begin at 7 p.m., other candidates — independent Dave Wrobel, John Turmel of the Pauper Party and Leslie Bory of the Canadians’ Choice Party — tried to get into the Rogers building on Harris Avenue but were locked out and told they could not participate. Each had registered as a candidate with the Elections Ontario Brantford-Brant returning office.
Also registered as a candidate is Nicholas Archer of the None of the Above Party.
Wrobel, who is also registered as a Brantford mayoral candidate in the Oct. 22 municipal election, and Turmel, a perennial election candidate, waited for some time outside the door to the building. Wrobel raised on his Facebook page his objections to candidates being excluded.
Chamber of Commerce CEO Charlene Nicholson said that, according to the organization’s rules, the only candidates to be allowed into the debate were those in political parties that have candidates running in a majority of the province’s 127 ridings in the June 7 provincial election.
In an interview, Wrobel disputed the chamber’s rules.
“It’s a clear act of discrimination,” he said.
He pointed out that Burns has not yet filed his papers to be an official candidate but was allowed to be part of the debate. The deadline for candidates to register is 2 p.m. Thursday.
“There is no inclusiveness,” said Wrobel. “The minute you do that you diminish the democratic process.”
Wrobel also criticized the candidates who took part in the debate for not raising objections about others being excluded.
Ferguson raised the issue briefly in his opening address. But the others said nothing.
“It’s wrong for those politicians to show no inclusiveness and let that happen,” said Wrobel.
Although he is registered as a mayoral candidate, Wrobel said he is still making up his mind about seeking the municipality’s top political job.