September 15, 2014 - All News


Brampton, Ont. – Earlier this month, the Brampton Board of Trade announced that
it would be holding a live debate for its membership on September 29, 2014 with
four candidates chosen to participate through a survey of its members. The four
candidates, Susan Fennell, Linda Jeffrey, John Sanderson and Don McLeod, were all
advised of the debate format and the fact that the debate would be limited to four
candidates in advance of the BBOT announcing the debate to the public. All four
candidates, including Mayor Fennell, confirmed their participation in the debate.
Since that time, allegations have arisen that the exclusion of candidates is
discriminatory and based on race. In the face of this criticism Mayor Fennell,
whose campaign team had previously accepted the invitation to debate, issued a
press release on September 12, 2014 threatening to withdraw from the debate
unless the Board of Trade was forced to include all mayoral candidates in the
debate. This, despite the fact that the BBOT and Rogers will be hosting a live-toair
all-candidate debate on October 9, 2014 in addition to the September 29th
Limiting the number of candidates in a mayoral debate is not a new concept. As
an example, the City of Toronto has 65 candidates for mayor listed on its website
with a wide range of ethnicity and experience among the candidates. Yet all of the
debates that have taken place have limited the candidates to a workable number to
allow for meaningful debate of the issues that are important to Torontonians. It is
natural that those candidates whose campaigns evolve to a point where they are
viewed as “contenders” in the mayoral race are the ones that constituents want to
hear from, to ask the tough questions of, and to test if they have the leadership
qualities necessary to lead the next term of council. Candidates do not have the
“right” to participate in debates, particularly those hosted by member-based
organizations. They earn the right to participate by running successful campaigns
that make them serious contenders for the office they seek to hold.
The Brampton Board of Trade will not host a debate that its membership does not
support. This debate format has been discussed and supported at our Town Hall
meetings, by our Board of Directors and endorsed by our Diversity & Inclusion
Committee as a fair format given the results of our survey. When the survey went
out to members it was made clear that our intention was to limit the number of
candidates participating in the debate to allow for meaningful dialogue and
challenge by those candidates our members wanted to hear from. Not one
member expressed concern about the process when the survey went out.
We are pleased to advise that Linda Jeffrey, John Sanderson and Don McLeod have
all reconfirmed their commitment to participate in the debate.
Ultimately, the voters will decide whether Mayor Fennell’s threat to withdraw,
having previously agreed to participate, is truly an act of solidarity or an attempt to
either avoid having to answer the tough questions that will be posed to her during
the debate or political gamesmanship to secure votes. Since the Brampton Board
of Trade will not be altering the debate format to allow all candidates to participate
we accept the Mayor’s withdrawal from the debate. We have invited the candidate
who garnered the next highest level of support from our members, Jacqueline Bell,
and she has confirmed that she will participate and take Mayor Fennell’s place in
the debate.
Finally, although we initially limited the number of debate participants to four we
recognized that a candidate may enter the race later in the process who, based on
their credentials, would bring value to the debate process even though they could
not be included in our member survey. We have learned that Hargy Randhawa
entered the mayoral race on September 12, 2014. Mr. Randhawa ran for mayor in
the last municipal elections in 2010 and secured 13.21% of the votes cast in that
election. He is the only other returning candidate from the 2010 elections. This
morning, Mr. Randhawa asked the Board to allow him to participate and given the
results of his 2010 campaign a decision has been made to create a fifth spot for Mr.
Randhawa. As such, Mr. Randhawa will join the other candidates in our debate,
which will be live streamed and covered by most major media outlets.
We hope all of the mayoral candidates will take advantage of the Rogers debate on
October 9, 2014 as an opportunity to communicate their platform and address the
issues relevant to this campaign and the City of Brampton.
For more information, please contact:
Susan Crawford,
Chair, Brampton Board of Trade
905.874.9343 x 224

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