11/15/2012 11:50 EST | Updated 01/15/2013 05:12 EST

Calgary Centre Candidates Slam 'Missing' Tory Contender

Some candidates in the Calgary Centre byelection say the absence of the Conservative candidate is starting to be noticed.

Three of the top four candidates took part in a Young Environmental Professionals forum Wednesday night in downtown Calgary.

"I'd like to thank CEP for putting this on and of course all of you for taking the time out of your evening to come here," said NDP candidate Dan Meades.

"One would think you could expect that of all the candidates."

Four candidates were invited, but Conservative candidate Joan Crockatt declined.

Crockatt has so far avoided public forums and turned down some requests for interviews.

"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.

Crockatt's campaign office says she will be at two upcoming forums.

Byelection race could be close

Political scientist Lori Williams of Mount Royal University says it's probably a good idea for Crockatt to be more visible.

"She plays very well on camera through the microphone she connects quite effectively," said Williams.

"It will probably not be to her advantage if the race gets very close for her not to let ... people get a sense of who she is, or what she represents."

Crockatt's campaign organizers say she is focusing on door knocking and meeting as many people as possible.

Williams says that's a good strategy if the candidate is way out ahead.

"You simply appeal to your base. You try to go out to get your supporters to come out and vote for the byelection and that's a safe strategy if you're in the lead, that's the kind of strategy you adopt," she said.

"Now as things are shaking up a little it looks like there's a bit more interest. Maybe this is becoming a bit more of a contest or a race. She may well have to rethink that strategy."

However, Williams says taking part in a forum or public debate can be risky.

Other candidates running are Liberal Harvey Locke, Libertarian Tony Prashad and Independent Antoni Grochowski.

The byelection will be held on Nov. 26 to replace Lee Richardson, who took a job as Alberta Premier Alison Redford's principal secretary back in May.

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