I am very disappointed that the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) has decided to cancel the upcoming Winnipeg South federal candidates’ debate. The rationale given to my campaign by vice-president external Astitwa Thapa was “the Local Candidate’s Debate has been cancelled because of [Conservative candidate Gordon] Giesbrecht’s refusal to attend the debate. We have heard from a lot of students that they just aren’t interested in attending if there won’t be a debate with the Conservative representation.”
I would ask UMSU to indicate how many of the approximately 29,000 students at the University of Manitoba indicated their lack of interest. Even without the participation of the Conservative candidate, students, professors, and staff deserve to hear about the platforms of the New Democratic Party, Green Party, and Liberal Party. In cancelling the debate, UMSU is allowing itself to be bullied by the Harper government – a government that has refused to participate in public forums in a meaningful way.
In a time when youth voter turnout is at an all-time low one would expect the student union of the largest post-secondary institution in Manitoba to encourage democratic participation through hosting a federal candidates’ debate.
NDP candidate, Winnipeg South