Our mayoral debate on October 7 was extraordinarily well-attended; too well-attended in fact. Unfortunately, due to a rather large influx of supporters of one candidate from outside the Leaside area (Scarborough, Etobicoke etc.) who arrived at the debate over an hour before the doors opened, by the time we opened the doors at 7 PM, almost all seats were gone instantly. By 7:30 we were having to turn people away – mostly Leaside residents who didn’t anticipate the huge crowd.
Unfortunately, there are legal limits on the William Lea Room capacity, which must be adhered to by all those who rent the room. Once we reached that limit, we were compelled to turn people away, or have them wait until people left. We sincerely apologize for this situation, but it was beyond our control. We had told the candidates that they were limited to three non-Leaside campaign workers/supporters each in an attempt to avoid this situation, but the candidate in question vowed that he had nothing to do with the attendance of a large group of his out-of-area supporters.
Otherwise, it was an interesting evening, with good questions submitted by attendees and for the most part, a reasonably respectful, if at times noisy, audience. Moderator Brian Athey did an admirable job – thank you, once again, Brian!
Some of you emailed us asking if the debate would be live-streamed. We would have liked to have been able to provide this, but unfortunately, the William Lea Room is neither equipped nor large enough. We would have had to rent equipment, hire technicians and most importantly, consume large amounts of valuable space, which as you can see, we simply did not have nor want to sacrifice.
These debates are intended for the community, and they are intended to provide an opportunity for community participation, not simply passive observation at home via TV. As such, while we may try to accommodate live streaming in the future, our primary objective will always be to provide an opportunity for community participation and interaction with candidates. And finally, the LPOA is entirely funded by the Leaside community through memberships and donations, so our budget for these events is limited, as is the available, affordable rental space in the community of adequate size and configuration for this sort of event.