News Local

No show candidates cause candidate forum cancellation

Greg Vandermeulen

A planned all-candidates forum in Altona could not take place, because two of the three candidates did not even respond to invitations.

Altona and District Chamber of Commerce manager Susan Yakabowich said they were extremely disappointed after only PC candidate and incumbent Cliff Graydon responded.

"Having held public forums for many years, this is a first where the chamber has wanted to hold a forum and has not heard back from parties after considerable attempts had been made to contact them," she said in a press release.

Not only did Liberal candidate Micheline Belliveau and NDP candidate Lorie Fiddler not bother to make room on their schedules they didn't even respond to the repeated invitations.

"Both the Liberal and NDP candidates were contacted numerous times by email and phone, however, (they) did not respond," Yakabowich said.

Both candidates were unavailable for comment to The Red River Valley Echo as well.

Yakabowich said the large Conservative population in this region does not justify the lack of interest and response from the other candidates.

The last federal election saw a packed house at a debate featuring all candidates, and last provincial election featured a debate between the PC and Liberal candidate. The NDP candidate had declined.

However, Yakabowich is not just blaming the candidates. She said this shows the NDP and Liberal party's commitment and interest in the region.

"Yet this past year, Bunge announced a $100 million expansion to a new canola seed crushing plant in Altona," she stated, adding other businesses continue to grow in the region.

"How can a current government afford not to take interest in this area is something the Altona and District Chamber of Commerce can't even begin to comprehend," she said.