Tory candidate accused of snubbing voters

Conservative candidate Michelle Rempel of Calgary Centre-North is being accused of disrespecting voters after skipping a public debate.

A Conservative candidate in Calgary Centre-North is being accused of disrespecting voters after skipping a public debate because of concerns the moderator may be biased.

Conservative Michelle Rempel was the only candidate who missed an all-candidates meeting Thursday at the University of Calgary.

Candidates are vying to replace former Tory MP Jim Prentice who resigned the seat last fall. Although she missed Thursday's event Rempel was among four candidates who mixed and mingled with about 250 potential voters on Wednesday night at the Carpenters' Union Hall.

NDP candidate Paul Vargis said it's odd that Rempel would miss the opportunity to talk about her party's platform.

"She supposedly works here at the University of Calgary so she could have just taken some time off to come here," said Vargis. "A lot of people are rather annoyed that she did not show up ... I actually think the Conservative candidate lost a lot of respect on this issue."

There were questions at the forum about education, health and foreign policy.

Voter Mari Decker was disappointed by Rempel's no-show. "I think that it's her duty, it's my duty to be here to get to know my candidates and surely she could be here share her views with us."

Green Party candidate Heather MacIntosh shared the disappointment. "She missed a chance to hear from not only students but other people who came out to the university, what their issues and concerns are," said MacIntosh.

Liberal candidate Stephen Randall said it's interesting Rempel wouldn't attend a forum at the university. "It's a bit contemptuous of democracy. I think she actually has something to say on some of these issues."

A spokesperson for Rempel's campaign said she declined the initial invitation because the campaign team didn't like the moderator, the vice president of the student's union, Hardave Birk. The student's union  then changed the moderator, but Rempel was already scheduled to meet with senior citizens in her riding.

Earlier this week the incumbent Conservative candidate in Calgary East did not attend the first debate of the campaign. Deepak Obhrai declined to participate because he said the event was set up by Liberal candidate Josipa Petrunic.