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Vrebosch 'concerned' Fedeli will only attend one candidates debate

In the past, Cogeco has limited which candidates can take part in its debates, so all candidates do not get the opportunity to express their views
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Nipissing Liberal candidate Tanya Vrebosch says she is "concerned" that Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli plans to skip all locally organized candidates debates but one...a cable TV event with no studio audience.

She calls Fedeli's decision "surprising."

"As the provincial election draws nearer, community groups and interested stakeholders have begun to reach out to the candidates to request their presence at debates in the Nipissing region. However, after a surprising announcement from Vic Fedeli last week, several of these groups have been left to organize debates without Fedeli at the podium,"  Vrebosch says in a news release.

“Vic has recently claimed he will attend only one local debate."

That debate is hosted by local cable outlet Cogeco's YourTV.

"It is disappointing to hear, as there are several local debates already being organized,” says Vrebosch.

She points to debates by Nipissing University and North Bay PRIDE, as well as a debate jointly hosted by the Nipissing University Student Union and the Retired Teachers’ Organization.

In an emailed response to BayToday, Fedeli defended his decision saying the cable show is televised, streamed, and can be downloaded throughout the entire campaign.

"Anyone can send in questions in advance, so there is ample opportunity to hear all candidates’ views on a variety of issues," he said. "I will be knocking on doors for the entire campaign and look forward to talking about my record as MPP and what we are offering for the future.”

Fedeli also has the advantage of having a regular show on YourTV.

Fedeli's claim of voters being able to "hear all candidates’ views" during the debate is untrue, as all candidates won't be invited.

In the past, Cogeco has limited which candidates can take part in its debates, so all candidates do not get the opportunity to express their views. in the last federal election, for example, PPC candidate Greg Galente was excluded from the YourTV debate. "I'm not surprised, I'm disappointed," Galante told BayToday at the time.

See: PPC candidate 'very disappointed' at being shut out of local cable TV election debate

With six candidates in the local race this election, it's unlikely all will be invited to participate in the TV debate. Giacomo Vezina of North Bay is the nominee for the None of the Above Party and Taylor Russell has confirmed his candidacy via Twitter and will represent the New Blue Party of Ontario.

See: Two more candidates for the ballot in Nipissing

Fedeli would not commit to attending any other candidate debates.

According to Cogeco's rules, the debate is only open to candidates who represent parties with seats in the Ontario Legislature and are members of the party to which they were elected. Because MPP Karahalios has switched parties, this excludes the New Blue candidate and NOTA has zero seats.

YourTV states, "Candidates invited to participate in the YourTV debate represent the Ontario PC Party, Green Party of Ontario, Ontario Liberal Party and the Ontario NDP.  All other local-level candidates will be offered free time messages that will air as part of the debate programming."

The Chamber of Commerce traditionally has held townhall-style candidate debates in the past with all candidates invited, but has not done so for the last couple of elections due to COVID.

However, Chamber President Peter Chirico told BayToday that no decision has been made yet on the upcoming election, although he would have a better idea sometime this week.

“This government has not been kind to many, including teachers, healthcare workers, and the 2SLGBTQ+ community and so it is disappointing to hear that he (Fedeli) does not consider these events to be true community debates.

“Whether Vic likes it or not, he will need to wear the decisions of this government, including the choices they’ve made that affect these communities," added Vrebosch. "It appears that on these issues, Vic believes their record speaks for itself - and on that point, we both agree.” 

The 2022 Ontario general election will be held on Thursday, June 2.

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