By Mike Anderson

York-Simcoe incumbent Caroline Mulroney did not attend local all-candidates events last week in Bradford and Sutton, and that has candidates from the other parties upset.

Brent Fellman, running for the New Blue Party of Ontario, says he was looking forward to challenging Mulroney over her government’s vaccine mandates and lockdowns.

However, he never got the chance because Mulroney, who is the clear front-runner, with at least one poll indicating she has 49 per cent of the vote, was a no-show at an all-candidates meeting organized by the Bradford Board of Trade on May 19.

Mulroney also didn’t show up for the Georgina Chamber of Commerce’s all-candidates debate, held at the Link in Sutton on May 17, although she did pre-record a short video address.

“I thought for sure she would want to be part of the televised debate. I had prepared a whole bunch of questions for our incumbent, and I was very disappointed that she wasn’t there,” Fellman said.

“One of the biggest problems I see, not only in this election but in society as a whole, especially during the pandemic, is there’s very little debate going on. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to address some issues. But when the incumbent’s not there, you can’t hold them accountable.”

Mulroney also declined to participate in JustRecoverySimcoe.ca, a virtual debate on Lake Simcoe’s environmental issues, held on May 18.

Margaret Prophet, executive director of the Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition, moderated the debate. It included topics like the Bradford Bypass, protection for endangered species and the Lake Simcoe Protection Act.

“The problem is that we don’t vote in a Premier; we vote in MPPs. And those debates may not be something that everybody attends, but they’re a chance to ask specific questions about what an MPP will do at the local level,” Prophet said.

“Mulroney’s refusal to show up erodes people’s trust in the democratic institutions we’ve had for centuries.”

“The Bradford Bypass should be something that is debated publicly. You’re talking potentially billions of dollars being spent. That’s a really big issue locally. And to be virtually silent on it, what kind of precedent is that setting?”

The Post asked Ramneek Bala, Mulroney’s campaign manager, to explain the no-shows. However, as of posting, a response has not been received.

Mulroney’s Instagram (IG) feed shows her taking part in a televised Francophone debate in Toronto on May 17, live from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Still, the all-candidates debate in Sutton was earlier in the day, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Her IG posts also show her door-knocking in York-Simcoe on May 18 and campaigning in Ottawa, on behalf of another Ontario PC candidate, on May 19.

Dave Szollosy, the Ontario NDP’s candidate in York-Simcoe in 2018, says he isn’t surprised that Mulroney has decided to skip local debates.

“PC candidates have consciously avoided all-candidates debates throughout the province,” he said.

“I think it shows a certain contempt for the voters. Anyone who is an elected member, who represents government, should be available for questioning by their constituency members.”

“They are undermining the democratic process. By refusing to participate, it stifles the debate.”

The Georgina Chamber of Commerce York-Simcoe All-Candidates debate will air on Rogers tv, Channel 10, until June 1.

The provincial election is on June 2; for more information, visit www.elections.on.ca.

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