Laurier hosted it’s second mayoral debate last night where seven of the nine candidates currently running for mayor appeared to answer two predetermined questions and face inquiries from an audience of citizens and Laurier students.
Candidates present included: Dianne Austin, James Calnan, Richard Casey, Chris Friel, Mark Littell, Mike Quatrociocchi, and John Turmel.
As the moderator gave the five minute warning six of the seven present candidates took their assigned seats at the front of the lecture hall. Candidate John Turmel, who holds the Guinness World Record for the most elections contested and the most elections lost, was among the audience.
“Five more minutes to beef about the undemocratic debate at Laurier.” Turmel said.
Turmel claimed that by not having the equal chance to answer all of the audience questions put him at an unfair advantage. However, due to time constraints and the number of candidates the organizers couldn’t allow this.
As the debate began, and Turmel took his seat, with some urging from his fellow candidates, the first question dealt with the development of the downtown. Specifically dealing with the post-secondary institutions present there.
A common theme in revitalizating the downtown for the candidates is plans to attract businesses and people to the downtown.
“What’s going to make a difference in this community and the downtown is the level of density, more students certainly, but more people who choose to live downtown,” said candidate James Calnan.
Arising from the topic of the downtown was the issue of safety on campus. A Laurier student who had been physically assaulted last year, where himself and a friend were attacked in the downtown, posed a question about ways to improve the safety of the Laurier campus
“Stop drinking, get on pot.” Turmel said out of turn, who as part of his campaign has plans to legalize banned substances.
However, other candidates proposed different solutions to this problem.
“I currently chair the Police Services board in Brantford,” said candidate Mark Littell, “and I can assure you that the direction that board has been giving to the chief is to make sure that the downtown is safe for the students.”
Along with safety, a popular idea was one put forth by Chris Friel, to attract gaming business to the downtown.
“Canada is number three for gaming in the world, in November 461 million dollars was spent in one day when Modern Warfare 2 came out. We can have a piece of that here in Brantford,” said Friel.
Sue Ferguson, who is the head of the journalism department, coordinated the debate set out to provide a forum for citizens and students to communicate with their mayoral candidates.
“We really wanted to provide a forum in which community members and students could raise their own concerns,” said Ferguson.