ParkTales on the hustings

ParkTales

Tory boycotts, Communist barred, from 'all candidates' meeting

Student protests by personally contacting the muzzled candidate

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective
 
Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

I was heartened by the young parliamentry page, Brigette DePape, who silently gave us a message when she held up her sign in the senate "Stop Harper".

I am ecouraged more and more by the responses of young people to the injustices they see.

I am including an example below.

During the current Ontario provincial elections campaign I've been attending the all-candidates meetings in the Toronto Centre riding.

At most meetings the so called "fringe" parties, this is what the estabishment calls all political parties except those already elected in parliament, are not permitted on the platform to participate in the debate.

Some excuses are "there is not enough room", "they have no one elected in parliament".

There happens to be four other candidates besides the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, and the Green Party, running in Toronto Centre. 

These are candidates of the Communist Party of Canada, the second oldest party in Canada founded in 1921, the Peoples Party, a newly formed party, and two other newcomers whose names escape me at time of writing.

The Conservative candidate has been a no-show to all meetings, leaving that chair vacant.

At one all-candidates meeting where there was no restriction on parties permitted to participate, with the exception of the Tory, who, true to form did not show, there was a good discussion and respect for all views.

On Wednesday, September 20, at a meeting sponsored by the Toronto District School Board, at Jessie Ketchum School, again the so-called "fringe" parties were not allowed to speak, including replying to any questions from the floor.

This meeting was dedicated to issues of public education.

At the end of the meeting, the Communist candidate, Cathy Holliday, handed out her election material at the exit and talked with the people coming out. It was interesting to observe the positive attitude of students receiving her platform.   

It was obvious the students didn't want anyone deciding for them whose program they would learn about.

They wanted to hear "all points of view and options" out there.

The questions the students asked of the "panel" were of serious concerns not only in the education system but about their future.

Most students were not satisified with the answers they got from the panel.

One student was particularly concerned about the debts students accumulate getting through university with serious concern about getting a job to pay off the debts after graduation.

The day after the meeting Cathy Holliday reported receiving the following email from one of the students who had attended the meeting:

"Hi Cathy,

I'm 17 years old, a grade 12 student at Rosedale heights school of the arts. I attended a local MPP debate on education and was dismayed to hear that the local Communist Party candidate had been barred from the debate, while the local Tory candidate simply failed to show up. I am interested in learning more about your platform and campaign, and would like to volunteer, if possible, as getting involved is the best way to gain knowledge. I am required to have 40 hours of community volunteering in order to graduate, and I think that helping your campaign in any capacity would be a great and interesting way to achieve those hours. Please contact me at my email address.

Thanks in advance!"

My Parkdale

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