Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper have already declined to attend their riding's all-candidates debates. New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton was the latest to announce that he won't be attending either.
Canadian federal party leaders and riding constituents are concerned over the reports that a number of federal candidates are not attending all-candidates debates. Last week, Conservative candidate Kevin Moore did not attend the Toronto Centre all-candidates debate, and New Democrat nominee Nicole Yovanoff did not participate in the all-candidates Don Valley West meeting.
This has led to deep criticism from Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff, who was reported saying that it’s “basic democratic politics, you show up.” Although Ignatieff himself will not be in attendance in his own riding’s debates, he encourages all candidates to take part in the important process.
Last week, Green Party candidate Adriana Mugnatto-Hamuissued an open challenge to Layton to attend the debate – something he has not done in the past three elections. “Lots of voters decide at debates who they'll vote for. I think he ought to make that effort,” said Mugnatto-Hamu. “I do think people want to hear from their potential representative.”
She added that these kinds of decisions are “anti-democratic” and is another step that is “leading the country down the wrong path.”
What does the NDP leader have to say about this? Well, that he is sorry.
“Unfortunately, as the national party leader I just can't make it to the local debate. We have to be all across the country,” said Layton. “I'm thankful to the constituents for their understanding and support; to the people for forgiving me for the absence.”
Layton noted, though, that a qualified representative to take his place in the debate.
The debate organizers have invited Animal Alliance Environment Voters Party of Canada candidate Marie Crawford, Liberal candidate Andrew Lang, and the aforementioned candidates.