Home Letters to the Editor All-Candidates meeting in Beachburg cancelled, sparks local debate

All-Candidates meeting in Beachburg cancelled, sparks local debate

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Dear Editor,

The executive of the Riverview Seniors Social Club has regretfully decided to cancel the Federal Candidates Meeting slated for Wednesday, October 9.

The challenge of getting the Cancellation News out to the community can be greatly helped by your sharing this news with your friends and neighbours.

A recommendation that the event be terminated, was brought to the Club’s executive by the Candidates Meeting committee chair Joey Trimm and members Phil Cottrell and Bob Grylls. This committee has worked hard and this is a very discouraging outcome. We sincerely thank the three men and applaud their commitment to this important event on the Club’s calendar. 

Here are the circumstances leading to this:      

In May 2019 an invitation was sent to the Pembroke Constituency Office of MP Cheryl Gallant telling of our Club’s plans for an October 9th All Candidates’ Meeting and inviting her to participate. No reply came from the Member’s office. Likewise, invitations were sent to Riding Associations of the other political parties. At that time the various riding associations had not yet chosen candidates.    

Throughout the summer months, as each riding association held its nomination meeting, Chairman Joey Trimm invited the new nominees to our evening.

The environmental services section details the following: One-by-one they accepted the invitation, as did other independent or fringe party candidates; resulting in all candidates signing on to be at the Riverview Club’s Oct. 9th Candidates Meeting – with the exception of Conservative incumbent Cheryl Gallant. 

Repeated attempts to get a commitment from Ms. Gallant were rebuffed.

Thursday, September 26th – 14 days prior to the October 9th event – Phil Cottrell was alerted by a participating candidate that she had received an invitation to attend a Candidates Meeting in Cobden on October 9th ,  sponsored by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). 

According to the OFA’s Donna Campbell, that group was told by Gallant’s office that the ONLY OPEN DATE, was Wednesday, October 9th.  Other dates were suggested but October 9th was the only acceptable date.

Candidates, previously committed to attending our Riverview Club’s meeting at Heritage Hall, Beachburg, began to accept their invitations to the Cobden OFA meeting. They were understandably keen to debate with the incumbent and that could happen for them in Cobden, not Beachburg.

There is no iron-clad guarantee that Ms. Gallant will attend the Cobden meeting as she has often in her career given a miss to these all-candidates meetings.

The Riverview Club finds itself unable to present the full & complete slate of candidates to the Renfrew-Nippissing-Pembroke electorate. So regretfully the decision has been taken to not stage a Candidate’s Meeting this year.

We encourage all candidates and all Renfrew-Nippissing-Pembroke voters to attend the OFA October 9th event in Cobden in the Agricultural Hall in the fairgrounds.

We strongly promote and will continue to support any effort to deliver information to the electorate. The aim of the Riverview Club’s sponsorship of several All Candidates Meetings through the years, has always been to showcase all party platforms and all candidate personalities. Voters deserve to be fully informed of their choices – the Canadian democratic process is built on that principal.

Gayle Stewart, President of the Riverview Seniors Social Club