Took in the Bay Ward debate last night at Woodroffe Public, well at least half of it. It was a packed house with standing room only. (The Labour Council has chosen not to endorse a candidate in Bay for a number of reasons. Perhaps in a later blog we'll get into that in more depth.) Overall the debate was uneventful and the crowd very polite with a gentle applause after each of the candidates had commented. Only five of the eight candidates chose to participate with Erik Olesen, Peter Heyck and George Guirguis (Guess George was too busy counting those hits on You Tube) deciding they had other more pressing responsibilities. Now aside from the typical and expected opinions on issues made by Kilrea and Cullen maybe even Little and Taylor I had not seen or heard candidate Oni Joseph before and was somewhat surprised by her performance.
People I know and whose opinions I mostly respect have a great deal of good and kind things to say about Oni and I acknowledge I know very little about her. However if the opinions she expressed and the lack of knowledge she possessed on key issues at least that I witnessed last night was any indication of her overall abilities she is in for a difficult finish as we zero in on October 25th. It was clear that most of the audience was uncomfortable as she responded to a number of questions. When asked what project she would first take on if elected she spoke of a monument to Olymic medalist Glenroy Gilbert (a Bay Ward resident). Not homelessness, not job creation, not the environment, not property taxes, not transit - just a monument to Glenroy. When asked her opinion of a "ring road" she asked "What's a ring road?"
Debates are difficult for candidates even at the best of times and everyone participating deserves full marks. A seat on our city council is a big job and a huge responsibility. Those elected have little time to learn and the decsions they make can have a significant impact on the lives of residents here. In fairness, everyone has those days where they're a little off and in fairness I attended only half the debate. What last night's debate in Bay may have shown is that perhaps some are not yet ready to sit around the Council table.