It was not a full house by any means, but the 50 or so people who chose to attend the all-candidates meeting this past Thursday at Beach United Church were there to ask the hard questions to help them decide who to vote for on Oct. 6.
But they were disappointed.
Only two Beach/East York candidates made time to attend and prepared for the event – Michael Prue, NDP, and Helen Burstyn, running for the Liberal Party.
Moderator Jason Balgopal read audience-submitted questions on a wide range of issues from export policies to wind farms. Both candidates were enthusiastic with their answers and before long the applause began…for both of them.
One person said that she had entered the room intending to vote for one party but is leaving confidently knowing that she will vote for another because of the answers given that evening.
When asked, in an interview after the meeting, how he felt about the other candidates not showing, Prue said he felt the Green Party candidate, Shawn Ali, was perhaps overwhelmed by the experience of his first debate the previous Tuesday.
As for the Progressive Conservative candidate, Chris Menary, not attending the all-candidates meetings, Prue suggested that “they are afraid to look people in the eye and tell them what they are going to do.”
“It shows disrespect to the community,” Burstyn told us of the two absentees. “It’s not an easy thing to do, but we have to work hard,” speaking about the challenges of an all-candidates meeting.
Prue added that at a function earlier that day, Menary “spent more than 15 minutes trying to convince the Liberal candidate not to attend tonight.”
“I’m appalled at that. That he did not want to come himself, but that he tried to convince other candidates not to come,” Prue explained.
Burstyn confirmed that she “saw the PC candidate at a function earlier [Thursday] and he indicated that he probably wouldn’t be coming tonight…and he suggested that I’d be better off not coming tonight.”
In a phone call with BMN, Menary denied the allegations and added that he “has been to every door campaigning.”
When asked why he has not attended the last two meetings, Menary stated that he had prior commitments, but will attend the Beach Metro News meeting taking place on Sept. 29 at St. John’s Norway Church.
Attempts to contact Green Party’s candidate Shawn Ali were unsuccessful.
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