Mill Woods newspaper leaves answers blank after candidate fails to respond

A community newspaper in southeast Edmonton resorted to an unusual accountability measure when federal Conservative candidate Tim Uppal failed to respond to its questionnaire.

The Mill Woods Mosaic published the questionnaire, leaving blank space where Uppal's answers should have been. 

"It was really a difficult decision because I don't want to embarrass anybody. I want to be fair," publisher and editor Arnim Joop said in an interview with CBC News.

"But in this case, he is basically the main opponent for (Liberal candidate and incumbent) Amarjeet Sohi and I really wanted to include him."

Joop posed the same seven questions to the four main candidates running in Edmonton Mill Woods. They ranged from the reason they're running to how will they convince people who mistrust politicians to vote. 

Sohi, Nigel Logan of the NDP, and Green Party candidate Tanya Herbert responded by Joop's deadline of Oct. 4. Uppal did not.

When Joop published the four questionnaires in the Oct. 15 issue of the paper, he left blank spaces to represent Uppal's non-answers to his survey. 


Joop said he sent his first request to the four candidates on Sept. 27. When he followed up two days later, Uppal's campaign manager Doug Zieber promised to review the questions. 

Zieber told Joop on Oct. 4 that Uppal would not respond. Three days later, Joop contacted Zieber with an offer to extend the deadline. That's when Zeiber said Uppal didn't have the time, Joop said.  

When CBC contacted Uppal for comment, the party emailed a written statement on his behalf. 

"Over the course of the election I have taken part in dozens of election surveys, interviews, and on-air debates. I have made myself available to the media on a number of different topics and occasions," Uppal wrote. 

"With that said, my main priority is and will always be talking to the people of Edmonton Mill Woods. I communicated this to the outlet, informed them that I was unable to partake in their election survey, and thanked them for the work they do for the community."

Joop isn't buying it. He said campaign workers often help candidates answer surveys and noted Uppal participated in a similar questionnaire during the 2015 federal election.

"I regard myself as the community newspaper for Mill Woods and he doesn't have time?" Joop said. "So I thought that was like a pretty lousy excuse."

Uppal has faced a couple of controversies during the campaign.

The Conservative revealed he will remain living in Ottawa even if he wins on Oct. 21. Uppal moved his family to the national capital in 2008 when he was first elected the MP for Edmonton-Sherwood Park. 

Uppal has also denied allegations he was involved with a voting kiosk set up in Edmonton by Jason Kenney's team in the 2017 United Conservative Party leadership race.

Joop said his questions focused on local issues so Uppal should have had nothing to fear.