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Egale cancels Ontario leaders’ debate

NDP, Liberal, and PC leaders decline invite to attend

The Ontario leaders’ debate on queer issues, originally scheduled for Sep 9, was cancelled on Sep 5 because three of the four invited provincial party leaders decided not to attend.

Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, Progressive Conservative leader John Tory and NDP leader Howard Hampton all rebuffed the invite. Only Green Party leader Frank de Jong is willing to have a direct, unrehearsed dialogue with queer people on queer issues.

The event, called Queering The Vote, was organized by queer lobby group Egale Canada.

“We’re very disappointed,” says Egale executive director Helen Kennedy. “I don’t know why [they refused]. We weren’t given any concrete reasons.”

On Aug 29 Tory told Xtra that he would only attend if McGuinty did.

“The premier has to say whether he’ll be there,” said Tory. “To have the guy not there isn’t a debate.”

McGuinty has also refused to speak with Xtra.

Kennedy says the Liberals and the NDP offered to send representatives — openly gay caucus members — to stand in for the leaders.

“The Liberals wanted to send [deputy premier] George Smitherman and the NDP wanted to send [MPP] Paul Ferreira,” she says. “The Tories didn’t offer us anybody else but they said they were looking for someone. We said that wasn’t acceptable. We don’t want their tokens.”

Kennedy says Egale still plans to co-host a candidates’ debate in the riding of Ottawa Centre — an event organized by Capital Xtra and Capital Pride. A federal leaders’ debate is also in the works for the run-up to the next general election.