CORNWALL, Ontario - A candidate for city council won't be attending an October debate, and has taken a shot at the group organizing the event.
Former city councillor Mark MacDonald said in an interview the Cornwall and District Labour Council is making a mistake by asking candidates to show up at a debate, after it has decided which individuals it will support in the looming municipal election.
"We need to find issues that unite us, not divide us," MacDonald said. "They're too divisive."
MacDonald took it a step further in an e-mail to labour council political action chair Louise Lanctot.
"Hi Louise -- I'm busy that day -- I have to stay home and sort my sock drawer," MacDonald said in response to Lanctot's invite.
In an interview MacDonald complained the labour council has dropped the ball when it comes to issues of public concern, pointing specifically to its decision to support Mayor Bob Kilger in the last election, and others around the council table including Elaine MacDonald.
Mark MacDonald asserted the current crop of councillors allowed the former Cornwall General Hospital to be sold instead of being used for a publicly-funded clinic - a crusade he led.
Often the labour council will ask candidates to fill out a questionnaire to explain their platform and MacDonald went through that process during the last election.
"I had Brian Lynch (a noted local NDP/labour supporter) help me fill mine out and he filled it out right from the (labour) manual," suggested MacDonald. "Yet they backed Kilger.
"They said they have a social conscience but all they did was let the biggest piece of public infrastructure slip right through their fingertips."
Lynch was contacted and wasn't about to be pulled into a political debate at this point.
"I don't know what the rationale was for their decision in a past campaign," he said of the labour council. "I really don't want to comment."
Lanctot disagreed with MacDonald's assertions and said the labour council has often been respected for its decisions within the community, even if people don't always agree.
"I don't know what he means by divisive," she said. "If it means there are people I will vote for, and people I won't...I can't see how it's divisive and dividing up the community.
"I think we're respected for our opinions."
The labour council will host a municipal council candidates debate on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m. at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 297. The debate will include a three-minute introduction by each candidate followed by questions from the labour council and audience and will conclude with a one-minute statement from each candidate.
The labour council is expected to release the list of candidates it is supporting by mid-September.