Lan Daniel, the Conservative candidate for York South–Weston, did not attend tonight’s debate. Both Laura Albanese and Paul Ferreira did.
The Conservative calculus is quite clear: Daniel doesn’t stand a chance in this riding. She could, however, completely screw up the provincial campaign by saying something dumb. The Conservatives have nothing to win and everything to lose.
The effects on the riding and democracy are not salutary however. Democracy suffers because we don’t get to hear alternative views—the NDP and the Liberals get to set out the only options. When Paul Ferreira, for instance, says that we need to do something about out-of-control public-sector CEO salaries [see note below] (which he did tonight), nobody comes to the defense of the market. That is a shame.
Skipping the debates also gives the other candidates, and the incumbent in particular, an easy ride. In a field of three candidates, two can pressure and criticize the remaining. Candidates will be more cautious and careful with facts and their records when they know they may face criticism from two sides.
This is the second time a Conservative candidate has skipped debates in York South–Weston. In the recent federal election, Jilian Saweczko skipped all untelevised debates.
Update: I have corrected the wording of the post. Paul Ferreira would like me to be clear about what he said. He writes, “I was explicitly referring to public sector CEOs and senior executives”, and, in fact, he was. I have changed the wording and regret the ambiguity of the initial post.