Student union cancels U of M debate after Gordon Giesbrecht rejects invite

The union that represents University of Manitoba students says it is canceling a scheduled debate between Winnipeg South Centre candidates due to a lack of interest from students.

Perceived lack of interest from student body led to decision to cancel, UMSU VP says

Gordon Giesbrecht, who teaches at the University of Manitoba, refused to participate in an all-candidates' debate on issues in the federal election. The University of Manitoba Students' Union has decided to cancel the debate. (Submitted by Gordon Giesbrecht)

The union that represents University of Manitoba students says it is cancelling a scheduled debate between Winnipeg South candidates due to a lack of interest from students after federal Conservative candidate Gordon Giesbrecht refused to participate.

The debate, which was set to take place for Oct. 5, was taken off the agenda following a meeting between University of Manitoba Students' Union (UMSU) representatives Monday night.

"It was pretty evident that not many students would have participated in the debate," said Astitwa Thapa, UMSU's vice-president of external relations. "The best course of action was to cancel it."

The announcement comes just days after Giesbrecht, a U of M professor and the Conservative candidate in the riding, pulled out of the debate.

"Everyone has heard the other three candidates speak in different forums.... We tried everything to bring Gordon Giesbrecht to come," Thapa said.

"They wanted to question Gordon Giesbrecht. The students were very dissatisfied when we informed them he would not come."

Thapa said students have vocalized their disappointment that Giesbrecht, "a leading professor at the U of M," would not attend.

"He's very famous — we really wanted to ask him questions," Thapa added. "It just didn't make sense to go ahead with the other three candidates."

Giesbrecht, who teaches in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, is popularly known as "Professor Popsicle" for his research on human responses to extreme environments.

In lieu of the leaders' debate, Thapa said members of UMSU intend on sending a list of questions to all four candidates in the riding. The answers will then be shared with students.

Canadians head to the polls Oct. 19.


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