News Release: Democracy Withers as Collenette, Lastman and Ootes Avoid Debate

Toronto – (October 25, 2000)

In a stunning show of cowardice, at the last minute David Collenette, federal minister of Transportation, and minister responsible for the GTA in cabinet, dropped out of a forum scheduled tonight at the St. Lawrence Centre. The event, billed as Election Fever, was to have featured Mel Lastman as well, until he too indicated that he would not attend. Additionally, Case Ootes pulled out of a scheduled forum on Oct. 23.

“Politicians these days prefer carefully planned photo ops and quick sound bites to actually facing the electorate and discussing their views. That’s what works for them. But why have the media been so complicit, letting the candidates off the hook from partaking in the most fundamental tenet of our democratic system?”

“Without debate democracy withers. The media should do better and push for public debate of the issues during elections.”

Gomberg Campaign Urges Media to Be Fair to Citizens

The Gomberg for Mayor Campaign is calling for fair treatment of our campaign by the media. Today’s Star contains the following phrases: “Övirtually no one to challenge him (Mr. Lastman) as mayor” and “With no viable opponent in the municipal election, LastmanÖ”

Says Gomberg: “These are words that snuff out any possibility of choice for the voters. I trust the voters to make a choice, if they are given one. The media is tilting the game so nobody has a chance to be considered viable.”

“The scorecard so far? Our website: 307,000 hits. Lastman’s: 0 (he has no web site). Leaflet distribution? Gomberg: 150,000, Lastman: 0. Participation in Debates: Gomberg: 3, Lastman 0. We have over 600 volunteers helping us out on a lively, grassroots campaign on the issues. Lastman is hiding behind journalists who say there is no contest.”