Tory candidates absent from debates across country

Canada Politics
Tory candidate Joyce Bateman

Tory candidates continue to be hard to reach on the campaign trails, including at riding debates, according to a media report.

Some debates in Calgary’s 10 federal ridings have been cancelled or delayed because of attendance refusals or lack of attendance from Conservative candidates, Brian Lee of the Calgary Leadership Forum told the Calgary Herald.

“All of the political parties have been very keen on participating except for one,” said Lee, a former Progressive Conservative MLA in Alberta, told the Herald. “I’ll let you guess. It starts with a ‘C.’”

Lee wasn’t immediately available for comment with Yahoo Canada News.

Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt did attend a Calgary event on Wednesday to increase voter turnout, CBC News reported, along with Liberal, NDP and Green candidates.

The problem with media and public access to Conservative candidates in the federal election goes beyond Calgary. The party didn’t send a representative to speak about issues affecting Ottawa at a Monday debate organized by the city’s mayor, Jim Watson, who has complained about no-shows earlier in the campaign. And the next night, Conservative candidate David Piccini was absent from the all candidates’ debate in the riding of Ottawa-Vanier.

The same night, the Conservatives also didn’t have a representative at a photo-op in London West, noted for being a bellwether riding in federal elections. The National Observer reported that Conservative candidate Ed Holder also missed a recent candidates’ debate.

In Newfoundland, Conservative candidates declined debate invitations for the ridings of St. John’s East and St. John’s South-Mount Pearl. On the other end of the country in Vancouver, the Conservative and Liberal candidates were both missing from a debate held for high-school students.

And on Oct. 1, Conservative candidate Joyce Bateman found herself replaced by a rubber chicken when she missed a debate in the riding of Winnipeg South Centre.

Even major newspaper columnists can’t assume they’ll get an interview with a Conservative candidate, let alone the prime minister. Tim Harper of the Toronto Star detailed his mostly unsuccessful efforts to speak with Conservative candidates in different parts of the country. 

That same paper reported in August that Conservative candidates were advised to avoid debates and media during the campaign, based on information from an unnamed Conservative insider.