The Bedford-Birch Cove candidates debate scheduled for Wednesday at the LeBrun Centre has been cancelled.
The event had been organized by the Bedford Community Council Association, an organization concerned about Bedford-related issues.
The proposed debate began to break down when incumbent MLA Len Goucher (PC) said he could not attend the debate because it conflicted with his 37th wedding anniversary.
The Community Council asked the Goucher campaign for alternative dates for a debate but was told there was no room on candidate’s schedule.
Despite the absence of Goucher, the Community Council still planned on holding the debate for the other three candidates in the riding.
Campaign handlers for Liberal candidate Kelly Regan agreed to participate as long as numerous conditions were met.
The conditions were outlined in an email sent to the Community Council by Regan’s campaign co-chair Kathie Swenson.
One condition was the presence of “an empty chair with the incumbant’s [sic] name and party in place”.
Another peculiar condition was that “the Bedford Beacon must correct its website and indicate that the incumbant [sic] has refused to participate.”
The BedfordBeacon.com, which has no formal ties with the Community Council, stated in a previously published article that Goucher would not be attending because of he would be “celebrating his 37th wedding anniversary”.
This is the reason Goucher provided in a telephone interview with the Beacon.
A third condition was that the council be “successful in getting Rick Grant (or an equivalent media moderator)” for the debate. Rick Grant is a television reporter at CTV.
The council turned down the request on the empty chair and did not ask the Bedford Beacon to change its article. However, it did secure the services of Grant as moderator.
Yet in the end, Regan decided she would not participate in the debate if Goucher didn’t.
With only two confirmed candidates – Brian Mosher (NDP) and Neil Green (Green Party) – the community council decided to cancel the debate.
Although there will be no public debate in the riding, all four candidates will participate in a debate at Charles P. Allen High School on Tuesday morning.
Candidates from the Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville riding will also participate in the debate, which has been organized by the school’s Grade 12 Political Science class.