Liberals do not show up to debate

The Liberal candidate, Ahmed Hussen, seems to think that we are not worth campaigning for. He did not show up to the all-candidates debate tonight, which was organized by five local groups.¹

About 100 people were at the York Civic Centre tonight to hear the candidates speak. Ahmed Hussen, the Liberal candidate, declined the invitation to attend. The Conservative candidate, James Robinson, who nobody expected to show up, fufilled those low expectations.

The debate was an exceedingly cordial affair; far from sparring, John Johnson and Mike Sullivan seemed to support each other. Johnson made no concerted effort to separate himself from the other left-leaning candidate, and once or twice Sullivan reached out, both figuratively and literally, to the man beside him. There was some laughing and no jabbing.

Sullivan was polished and stuck to the party platform: pro-transit, anti-war, pro-niqab, anti-Conservative and pro-environment (with the disappointing exception of pipelines). He was genuine though, and he was relaxed and charming. He seemed most passionate when speaking about Weston and his decision to run here.

Johnson may have been a bit less polished and a little less schooled in the doctrines of the Greens. He never had the inclination (or the occasion) to bang the table, and seemed content to answer questions with his own ideas and to improvise. I respect him very much for putting himself forward. I do regret, however, that he did not hold Sullivan more to account.

Of course, that is not really his job. He is a fringe candidate. The other parties–and especially the Liberals–should have been here, testing their own ideas and those of their opponents.

And in this, they have let us down. No. That doesn’t do this situation justice. Allow me to take off my thin veneer of objectivity and put it aside for a moment.

Ahmed Hussen and James Robinson want the fame, feeling, and fortune of political candidacy, but they do not deserve a vote, let alone a job. They refuse to stand before you and your neighbours and answer your questions. They refuse to explain. They will not say how their party’s platforms will affect you and your riding.

You wouldn’t hire a plumber who wouldn’t meet you, but this is much worse. Politics is war by other means. It makes winners and losers, and Hussen and Robinson owe it to you to explain their doctrines—after all, you might be one of the losers. They should have the guts.

Worse, much worse, they missed their chance to challenge the incumbent, Mike Sullivan. They would not face him, test him, and hold him and his record to account. Even if they think they will lose (and they are ensuring that) they owe us their expertise. Democracy, like capitalism, works only with competition. Gerrymandering and vote suppression are evil because they prevent that battle of ideas. Refusing to engage your opponent is no better: it makes a clash of ideas into a contest of advertising.

So shame on these gutless cowards who want much and give little. Shame on Ahmed Hussen, in particular, whose put himself forward in a competitive riding and refused to compete.

Ahmed Hussen did York South–Weston a terrible disservice. He asked to be elected but not accountable, and, worse, he abetted Mike Sullivan in being the same.


¹ The 12 Community Alliance, the Rockcliffe-Smythe Community Association, The Weston Village Residents’ Association, the Mount Dennis Community Association, and the Greenhills Community Association deserve your thanks and support.

Author: Adam Norman

I am raising my two children in Weston.

8 thoughts on “Liberals do not show up to debate”

  1. I’m not a fan of political debates, generally, for the reason that sound policy and argument tend to obscured by what is really a form of performance art – hence the Donald Trump phenomenon in the States.

    Still, the candidates ought to at least make the effort. No bother trying to draw any conclusions about Robinson, but one does get the feeling that Hussein has been parachuted in by Liberal headquarters. As for Sullivan, regardless of how you feel about his party, he is owed the credit of being an excellent and engaged representative of his constituents.

    That being said, with a turnout of 100 voters to the debate, Ahmed Hussein and James Robinson have lost at most 100 votes, collectively.


    1. I’m not sure it’s quite right to say the NDP are “pro-niqab.”

    2. If you don’t want to move the oil by pipeline, and you don’t want to move it by train, how do you propose the oil gets moved? I suppose one could just shut down the tar sands, but good luck getting elected on that platform.

    1. Thank you, Eric, for your comment. I’ve added a link to make it clear what I mean when I say “pro-niqab”. I’m moving fast, though, so I won’t elaborate in the passage itself.

      I agree: debates stink. I can’t think of a better alternative, though…. Wait. I really would love to see “Voters’ Den”. Or “So you think you can govern”. (I claim those ideas forever, right now. Mine.)

      I disagree: they haven’t lost only 100 votes. I venture that people are generally put-off by politicians who won’t debate, and that voters—even when they don’t watch the debates—think that they are important (qv the arguments over Elizabeth May). And word spreads through sites just like this and readers just like you. Of course, we’ll never know. But he’s lost my vote. That’s one.

      Oh, and I propose exactly that: we leave the tar in the ground and instead build wind, solar, and nuclear until energy is so cheap that leaving it there makes sense.

  2. Liberals not showing up at a debate is a known tactic the Liberals have used and will continue to use. In the end, the Liberals are simply hoping that someone named Trudeau is all they need to win……they might be right, especially in the GTA area.

  3. Was it not Laura Albanese our Liberal MPP who did not show up at the last two debates for the Provincial election? Correct me if I am wrong. Sad state of affairs when elected officials and candidates are no shows at debates. Shocking actually.

  4. The candidates are essentially asking for us, the voters, to hire them as our representative in Ottawa. The all-candidates debate therefore is a job interview. To not show up and still expect to get hired is extremely disrespectful.

  5. “I call them fiberals not liberals on September 29, 2015 at 2:08 pm said:
    Was it not Laura Albanese our Liberal MPP who did not show up at the last two debates for the Provincial election? Correct me if I am wrong. Sad state of affairs when elected officials and candidates are no shows at debates. Shocking actually.”

    Looks like the person who is fibbing is you. She was at the last one for a fact because I was there and it’s the reason she won by such a high margin.

    This was a big mistake by Hussen. I guess it’s another 4 years of complaining about anything and everything with nothing to show for it but multiple pieces of propaganda in my mailbox each month with Sullivan’s face and the NDP logo sponsored by the taxpayers.

    The reason Weston looks the way it does is because there has been no federal investment since the Conservatives took power. Not that Mike’s to blame for that.

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