Friday, 22 April 2011

Conservative headquarters tells candidates not to go to local debate

All-candidate debates, without all the candidates
A teacher who organized an all-candidates debate for two Toronto-area ridings says the Conservative Party's national campaign headquarters told its local candidates not to show up.

James Blair said he spoke to the campaign manager for Corneliu Chisu, the Conservative candidate for Pickering-Scarborough East, and was told officials in the national campaign war room instructed Chisu not to attend.

Chisu and a neighbouring Conservative candidate, Chris Alexander, did not attend the event at Dunbarton High School in Pickering on Monday.

Corneliu Chisu is the Conservative Party's candidate in the Ontario riding of Pickering-Scarborough East. "The general sense was [the candidates] were very interested in attending but it was pretty well given to them that no, that's not the case," said Blair, a politics and physical education teacher who has organized candidates debates at the high school for the past three elections.

Blair said the directive "was not coming from their campaign but from on high from some place."

In an email, Conservative spokesman Chisholm Pothier said Blair is incorrect, and that Tory war room staff did not stop Chisu from participating.

"The [Chisu] campaign consulted with us and we supported their decision that his time could also be better used by campaigning directly with voters in his riding in this instance," Pothier wrote.

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