Toronto election 2022: only one debate confirmed so far IG News

IG news Update,

Voters may have a hard time understanding how Toronto’s mayoral candidates have stacked up against each other in this campaign.

With just over a month until Election Day, only one debate has so far been confirmed between the leading candidates to rule Canada’s largest city.

This is in stark contrast to previous elections, when mayoral challengers may have to face dozens of times during the campaign. And experts say the lack of face-to-face meetings in the 2022 race is a troubling sign of the health of local democracy.

“It should be just a basic premise of democratic elections that voters get to see candidates debate each other multiple times,” said Robert McDermid, professor emeritus of political science at York University.

He said the debate is especially important in a municipal contest like Toronto, which has no political parties and voters are less likely to be familiar with the candidates’ platform.

“We definitely need more debate, to allow citizens to be more engaged, so that candidates can be more clear about where they stand,” McDermid said.

There are several possible reasons for planning for less debate this year, according to McDermid, including voter apathy. Despite facing 30 challengers in the October 24 election, current John Tory has some high-profile rivals between him and his third term, and it is expected that there will be less political drama in this campaign than in the previous campaign. .

Some of the groups that hosted the debate in 2018 also told the Star that COVID-19 hindered their ability to host candidate events this time around.

“We don’t have the capacity,” said Jacoba Knappen, volunteer president of ArtsVote, who hosted the first debate of the 2018 campaign. She said the pandemic caused scheduling conflicts, meaning the group didn’t have the resources to do it again this year.

For Canada’s provincial and federal elections, broadcast unions or a government commission are responsible for conducting leaders’ debates. But at the municipal level the process is more informal.

Traditionally, the media and advocacy groups take it upon themselves to invite candidates for debate, many of them focused on specific issues that organizations want to highlight, such as transit, climate change or housing.

In the past, it has prompted mayoral candidates to show up to about 100 debates in one campaign. This changed during the last municipal election in 2018, when the Tories ran in four debate. Some others went ahead without the mayor’s involvement.

Still further debates were canceled either because of logistical issues, or because organizers pulled the plug when the Tories rejected a format that could see them face off against their most prominent challenger, Jennifer Kismet. His campaign cited the need for organizers to include a diverse slate of candidates, while critics accused him of attempting to dodge his main rival.

So far, only the Toronto Regional Board of Trade has confirmed that it will hold a debate of the leading candidates for 2022. According to a spokesperson for the Business Advocacy Group, the event will take place at noon on October 17 and will be attended by Tory, Gill. Pealosa, Sarah Klimenhaga, Chloe-Marie Brown and Stephen Punvasi.

The Canadian Association for Retired Persons is also hoping to hold a forum on senior citizens’ issues on October 1, but the group says it will not go ahead without the mayor. The organization is still awaiting a response to the invitation it sent to its campaign last week.

No other group that organized or attempted to organize a debate in 2018 confirmed to Star that they would do so this fall. This included Global News and CBC Toronto, both of which said they were yet to finalize plans for the 2022 campaign.

Transit advocacy group TTCriders said it was not going ahead with an event this year because the mayor refused to participate in debates that took place in the last two elections. Confidence in the City and Heritage Toronto said COVID-19 and other recent changes had forced them to shift their actions away from debate, while the Toronto Environment Coalition said it was focused on securing climate commitments from candidates .

Genesa Crognally, communications director for the Tory campaign, said the mayor “expects to debate other candidates, as he has done every time his name appears on a ballot.”

According to Crognali, the mayor’s team is “still working through the details with CARP” about that group’s planned debate, and the campaign has been in contact with other organizations that are interested in hosting but are “seemingly appropriate.” But let them announce the details.”

Asked whether the mayor had any prerequisites for participating in the debate, he said that, as in previous campaigns, the mayor wanted to “ensure that the debate phase would run for the mayor and the city as a whole.” representative of all the candidates.

Challengers for mayor’s office are expecting more debate.

Penalosa’s policy director Andrew Athanasiou lamented that the board of trade debate would collapse after advance voting from October 7 to 14.

“Many people would have already voted just to have one (debate) after another… is not a sign of a healthy democracy. Gill will be involved in any debate that involves John Tory,” he said.

Klimenhaga, who participated in an online forum with lesser-known mayoral candidates on Saturday, said debates are “an essential part of the democratic process” and with technology making it easier to host them virtually as well as in person. , “There is no good reason I know they haven’t.”

Ben Spur is a Toronto-based reporter who covers city hall and municipal politics for the Star. Contact him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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