Mayoral candidates are eager to participate in debates as the municipal election nears, but they don’t appear to currently have an opportunity to face off in a publicly accessible forum.
GuelphToday reached out to numerous organizations which have hosted candidate debates in the past that were open to the public; none of them are planning such events this time around.
“I would certainly like to see an in-person debate with the mayoral candidates,” candidate John Edward Krusky said in an email. “Hopefully, some organization will be willing to host this type of event.
“As long as the other candidates and incumbent mayor are interested, I would be in attendance,” he added.
Fellow candidate Shelagh McFarlane said she’d also like to take part.
“I would attend if asked,” she said via email.
Rather than host a public debate as it has in the past, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce is organizing a series of individual ward question and answer sessions. The plan, explained president and CEO Shakiba Shayani, is to post them on the chamber’s YouTube channel on Sept. 27.
"It's mostly an efficiency decision," she explained of the change, noting the online videos will allow a wider variety of people to access the information on a timeline that works for them. "It's still very important content for us."
There are other events planned to hear from candidates, but they are intended for specific audiences.
A mayoral debate is planned at Bishop Macdonell Catholic High School, but that event isn’t open to the public. Peter Martin, the school’s department head of Canadian and world studies, explained students from other schools will be invited to view the event online.
Residents of Village by the Arboretum are planning an all-candidates debate for mayoral and Ward 5 candidates later this month, but it’s only open to residents of that Stone Road East community.
Guelph & District Association of Realtors is also set to host a breakfast forum with mayoral candidates, but that’s limited to members and guests.
“Although my campaign schedule, alongside my continued duties as mayor, have filled up my calendar until election day, I still made the effort to accommodate all four debates that I have been invited to,” said incumbent candidate Cam Guthrie via email. “Whether they are virtual, in-person for seniors, students or our local realtors association, I will always try my very best to accommodate everyone as I always have.”