There’s been a lot of questions about the lack of formal public debates in this election, but know it seems like there’s a question of who gets to debate. In the wake of the controversy around a certain Ward 1 candidate and their on-again, off-again campaign, at least one person running in Ward 6 has said that his appearance at the candidate forums that start next week at 10C is a proverbial bridge too far.
“We have in our midst, an individual with a proven track record of egregious behaviour,” said Ward 6 candidate Craid DiSero in a statement to the media. “This individual is heavily involved in a Facebook page entitled Caught In Guelph (and Area). This page promotes transphobia, homophobia and hatred. This person has made no secret of the fact that he believes that ‘my Facebook page is an extension of me.'”
Earlier this month, several social media posts from Ward 1 candidate Thai Mac re-surfaced after people expressed concerns about their content, which many people described as homophobic and transphobic. There were also some other posts that made essentially inappropriate comments about the appearance of young female servers at local restaurants.
Mac announced on September 8 that he was ending his campaign, but last Friday he took that announcement back. Mac has not responded to numerous requests for comment from this and other media outlets.
For these reasons, DiSero said that he can’t participate in any event that also invites Mac to participate, which is why he’s pulling out of the candidate forum for Ward 4, 5 and 6 candidates at 10C Shared Space on October 12.
“There is no place for bigotry, hatred, homophobia, transphobia or the objectification of women on Guelph City Council,” DiSero explained. “I have to stand by my personal principles. Although I hold no ill will toward the organizers and I understand their position, I will not be a part of any event that provides a platform and a voice for intolerant bigots. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” I will not stand by and do nothing.”
Di Sero’s principled stand brought forward an opposing one from his Ward 6 competitor Chetna Robinson, who said that the lack of opportunity to debate other candidates in a public forum makes it even more vital for every candidate to accept every opportunity presented. “I appreciate Mr. Disero’s stance but I can not allow myself to hand a bully the power to silence me, or compromise our civic discussion,” Robinson said.
“I acknowledge that I would feel uncomfortable but because my event is on a separate night, and the candidate will not be attending the event, I am eager to engage on these important topics. Guelph is going to transform in the next few years and to keep our city beautiful, we need courage and engagement,” she added. “I commend Mr Disero on his courage and I hope he understands why I need to prioritize engagement.”
You can register for the October 12 forum with the Ward 4, 5 and 6 candidates for free on Eventbrite here.