Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is calling on Calgary Centre Tory candidate Joan Crockatt to participate in a public debate.
Crockatt has recently been the subject of criticism for her absenteeism at riding debates but in an opinion piece in the Calgary Herald, Nenshi, who will be seeking re-election on October 2013, questioned why the former journalist and political commentator wouldn’t want to engage the other candidates.
“A number of community associations and the Calgary Public Library are sponsoring a special Cities Matter candidates' forum on Sunday,” said Nenshi in his column.
“As I write this, candidates from three major parties have confirmed their attendance. We're still waiting on Conservative Joan Crockatt, but I can't imagine why she would want to miss this opportunity to discuss the government's commitment to Calgary. I encourage all Calgary Centre voters to attend.”
A statement from the Mayor’s Office Friday afternoon says the forum will focus on municipal issues that relate to the federal government, with Nenshi hosting.
On Friday morning, the mayor also put out a call to action on his Facebook page, in which he asked Calgary Centre voters to play an active part in the process.
“Take the time to learn about the candidates and their positions on the issues.. specifically the issues that relate to cities and the role the federal government can play in building strong cities that will continue to be the engines of social and economic development in our country,” the post states.
Nenshi’s confusion about Crockatt’s campaign strategy comes at the heels of days of criticism being leveled against the Tory contender by the rest of the field, as well as voters.
"Calgary Centre voters are really starting to notice that the Conservative candidate is missing in action, not just at this forum, but really in the riding itself and I think the proof of that is that her polling numbers are in freefall," said Green Party candidate Chris Turner.
Public reaction to the 'missing' candidate has also not been kind.
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There are numbers to back the claim that Crockatt's poll results are on the slide.
The poll by Forum Research for The Huffington Post Canada conducted on August 14 showed the Conservatives had more than twice the support of their closest adversary, despite the fact they had yet to name a candidate.
Conservative Lee Richardson, who announced his resignation as Calgary Centre’s MP on May 30, captured 58 per cent of the vote in the 2011 federal election, while Liberal candidate Jennifer Pollock took 18 per cent.
iPolitics reported that polls conducted recently re-enforce that pattern of growth for both the Liberals and the Greens.
A September Forum poll showed a 20 per cent gap in popularity between Crockatt and her closest competitor, Liberal Harvey Locke, according to iPolitics.
But another Forum poll earlier this week had Crockatt and Locke locked in a statistical tie, with Crockatt’s support sitting at 32 per cent and Locke’s at 30 per cent, iPolitics reported, adding the margin of error in that poll was four per cent.