A planned televised debate for White Rock’s two mayoral candidates has been cancelled, after one declined the invitation to participate.
And while challenger David Bradshaw changed his mind Friday afternoon – about 24 hours after saying no – it was too late to change the course.
“As soon as he cancelled on us yesterday, we had to move,” Shaw producer Ian MacKenzie told Peace Arch News that morning.
“It’s his right and we’re moving on.”
Bradshaw told PAN Friday morning that he had accepted the invitation to participate – on the condition questions and topics to be discussed would be disclosed beforehand. He declined when he learned that wouldn’t be the case.
“(The producer) knew the precondition and he didn’t say there was a problem with it – initially,” Bradshaw said. “Then all of a sudden he just says not only do we not give the questions out, we don’t even tell people what the topics are.
“I’m not going to engage in a debate unless I’m allowed to prepare.”
Bradshaw is the sole candidate to challenge incumbent Wayne Baldwin for the city’s top seat. Baldwin, who agreed to participate in the debate, is hoping to win a second term in the chair when voters go to the polls on Nov. 15.
MacKenzie, who is arranging debates for mayoral candidates in all Metro Vancouver communities, said Bradshaw was the only one to decline.
MacKenzie said the plan was to do a live-tape of the debate on Oct. 31 that would air in the evening. Questions to the candidates were to be posed by municipal affairs columnists Charlie Smith from the Georgia Strait and PAN columnist Frank Bucholtz, who is also the editor of the Langley Times.
There would also be an opportunity for open debate, he said.
MacKenzie said no candidates receive advance notice of the topics and questions to be covered.
He acknowledged his initial correspondence with Bradshaw’s representative, Aroon Shah, was not clear about the format.
“I actually apologized to him for that,” MacKenzie said. “Unfortunately, he felt it wasn’t in his best interests to participate.”
Bradshaw told PAN that without an opportunity to prepare, even generally, for the debate, “it’s more like a meeting by ambush.”
A floor open to any question or topic isn’t appropriate, he said.
“They’re going to ask me about my religion? They’re going to ask me about my sex life?” Bradshaw said. “I think there are lines that people should not cross, and I think people are allowed to have a personal life, and I don’t think questions about personal matters should be asked.”
MacKenzie said the debates stick to issues relevant to the community being focused on.
“The idea is that if you’re going to run for mayor, you should know the issues,” he said.
In Bradshaw’s email to MacKenzie Friday afternoon, he notes his spokesperson “filled me in on his conversations with you which provided additional contextual information not known to me beforehand which was significant and eased my concerns.”
“As such, I would like to participate in the debate, if it is still on.”
Shaw will not have another opportunity to host a debate for White Rock’s mayoral candidates, however, both Bradshaw and Baldwin plan to participate in Shaw’s offer to candidates of two minutes on camera to outline campaign platforms.