The City of Duncan has had to step in to ensure that all candidates in the upcoming municipal elections are aware of all-candidate meetings that are being organized.
Several gatherings for those running for Duncan’s city council that were billed as “all-candidates” meetings have been held, with more scheduled, in a number of senior citizens homes in the community.
But Tom Ireland, a former CAO of Duncan, claims that only certain candidates, those who had similar views on many city issues, were actually invited to attend.
Ireland said that when some of the attending candidates were asked why all the candidates were not at the meetings, they were told by organizers that they “couldn’t be bothered to come”.
Ireland said that some of the candidates who weren’t specifically invited to attend but found out by other means did come to the meetings.
He said he finds the issue “unethical”.
“There is little more heinous than exploiting some of the city’s most vulnerable and easily influenced voters,” Ireland said. “It’s not right that seniors are being misled like this.”
Peter de Verteuil, the city’s current CAO, said Duncan’s chief election officer had learned of the issue and had sent an email to all candidates for Duncan’s city council to let them know the dates and times of all-candidates meetings, none of which are being organized by the city itself.
“In the email, it was suggested that it is certainly acceptable to campaign as a group or organize a meet and greet with only some candidates, so long as it is clear to the residents and building manager that not all candidates were invited,” de Verteuil said.
Mayoral candidate Martin Barker, who asked the senior homes to host the meetings, said he is the victim of a smear campaign that is being organized by his opponents.
He said that while he did set the times and the dates for the meetings at these facilities, it was not his place to let all the candidates know about them.
Martin said it was never his intention to exclude anyone from the meetings.
“Anyone can pick up a phone and discover where and when these meetings are happening, and it’s up each candidate to find out,” he said.
“I’m in the crosshairs of a smear campaign and I’m finding it difficult to defend myself. I’m wondering why people are not more focused on issues that people care about, like homelessness and housing affordability in Duncan, and the controlled substance bylaw that I’m planning to move forward, instead of this.”