Grass roots bars Peter Tabuns from Toronto Danforth Debate

Layton “no-show” ignites democratic response!

John Richardson, Independent candidate for Toronto Danforth appeared in what was supposed to have been an “All Candidates” debate.

Imagine a situation where a non-candidate might appear in a “Candidate’s Debate” and an actual candidate might be barred from that “Candidate’s Debate”. That is what almost happened on October 7, 2008 in the NDP stronghold of Toronto Danforth.

The debate got off to a slow start for two reasons:

1. Incumbent and NDP Leader Jack Layton didn’t appear. He dispatched NDP MPP, Peter Taubuns (who is NOT a candidate in Toronto Danforth), to appear in his place. The organizers of the debate (who reportedly had accepted Mr. Taubuns in advance), and moderator Wayne Walder worked hard to facilitate Mr. Taubun’s participation.

2. Canadian Action Party Candidate, Bahman Yazdanfar, who IS a candidate in Toronto Danforth was initially not allowed to appear in the debate (apparently there was an issue as to whether he had confirmed his participation).

Hence, the start of the debate was delayed. What followed was a fantastic exercise in “grass roots” democracy.  It unfolded as follows:

Moderator Wayne Walder explained to the crowd that there was to be a vote from the crowd on two issues:

First, whether Mr. Taubuns, the non-candidate (appropriately decked out in his NDP button) would be allowed to appear.

Mr. Walder put the Taubuns vote to the people, (noting that he personally hoped that they would allow Taubuns to appear). The vote was overwhelmingly against Mr. Taubun’s participation. Surprisingly, the organizers and Mr. Walder decided to ask the crowd to vote again. (This is not made clear by the City TV video). Once again, the vote was overwhelmingly against the participation of Mr. Taubuns. At this point, Mr. Taubuns left the building.

Second, whether Mr. Yazdandar, the actual candidate (the Canadian Action Party) would be allowed to appear. Mr. Walder put the Yazandar vote to the crowd (without expressing his hope that Mr. Yanzandar be allowed to appear). The crowd voted in favour of Mr. Yanzandar.  He appeared in the debate.

For video and a reporting from City TV see:
The “All” candidates debate of October 7 was a clear victory of “grass roots” democracy over party interests!