Winnipeg mayoral candidate Michael Fillion is furious the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is hosting a mayoral debate for only five of the eight candidates running for mayor.
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has scheduled a mayoral forum on Sept. 10, but only invited Gord Steeves, Brian Bowman, Robert Falcon Ouellette, Paula Havixbeck and Judy Wasylycia-Leis.
That didn’t sit well with candidate Fillion, who has been left out of the invite-only event, along with candidates Michael Vogiatzakis and David Sanders.
He said he approached Stefano Grande, the BIZ’s executive director, Thursday morning and demanded answers.
“They said there is not room for eight. That is not acceptable,” he said. “I was very angry. I may not have been very vocal so far … but that is no excuse to not invite candidates to forums.”
He added none of the five candidates invited live in the downtown area, but he does.
“Transparency and honesty means that you cover the whole spectrum. This is not covering the whole spectrum,” he said.
Sanders said he has also got in touch with Grande to express his concerns.
“As far as I’m concerned, if people are prepared to run for mayor, they should certainly be included and have their opportunity,” he said. “I am surprised.”
Sanders said if all candidates aren’t there, he’s not interested in attending and added there are at least a dozen other all-candidate debates he will be attending.
"The idea that any organization would choose to censor a few candidates is I think a serious error and I would not support that," said Sanders.
Mike Vogiatziakis called his exclusion a "political prejudice" that was "unfair not only to the candidates, but to Winnipeg's voting population."
But the Downtown BIZ’s Jason Syvixay said no insult was intended.
"We have a limited time frame to discuss thoughtfully issues related to our city's downtown, so with that in mind, we decided to focus on a limited group of candidates," said Syvixay.
He added the BIZ has invited all candidates to submit their answers to the questions raised in the forum, and the BIZ will publish them.