Davis Campus to host Brampton Board of Trade mayoral debate


Sheridan College will be playing host to the upcoming Brampton Board of Trade’s mayoral debate.

The Sept. 29 event, which will include only five of the 14 mayoral candidates, has caused quite a stir among those candidates not invited.

“When the [Brampton] Board of Trade decided to invite only four candidates, all of the white, I questioned their decision,” said Devinder Sangha, one of Brampton’s mayoral candidates.


The debate was to originally be between Linda Jeffrey, Susan Fennell, John Sanderson and Donald McLeod, all white candidates and all previously elected officials.

According to Alex Mori, communications director at the Brampton Board of Trade the decision was based solely on a member’s survey.

“They indicated they wanted those four candidates,” said Alex Hori, communications director at the Brampton Board of Trade. “The allegations [of racism] are unfounded and untrue.”

Linda Jeffrey, currently the voter favourite according to Forum Research polls, has no problem with the format.

“When the [Brampton] Board of Trade decided to invite only four candidates, all of the white, I questioned their decision,” – Brampton mayoral candidate, Devinder Sangha.

“We all knew the rules going in and the members chose who they wanted to hear from. I respect the rules and the parameters of the debate that the Board of Trade put together,” she said. “I think there are lots of ways to ensure that voters have access to elected officials and can make an informed choice as to who their best candidate should be.”

Mayor Fennell was dropped from the debate after threatening to boycott the event on Sept. 12.

A decision that had nothing to do with mayor Fennell’s actions, Hori said. “We didn’t force her to boycott the debate. We were fairly clear on our position.”

Jeffrey feels the same way.

“It’s unfortunate the mayor chose to threaten the Board of Trade, she knew what the rules were,” she said.

The board replaced Fennell with Jacqueline Bell and Hargy Randhawa, both visible minorities.

For Sangha it’s not enough.

“How would you get the perspective of what the visible minorities feel simply having these elected officials paying lip service? They’ll go to a Sikh temple, go to a Hindu temple, go to a mosque or to a synagogue, but saying one line in another language will not solve the systemic problem [of racism],” said Sangha.

Another mayoral candidate also excluded from the Board of Trade’s debate, Baljit Bobby More, thinks limiting the number of participants is a disservice to voters.

“I believe we need change in the city. We need to build a system of trust,” he said. “We want people to know what we stand for.”

Jeff Zabudsky, president of Sheridan College and a former member of the Board of Trade believes that regardless of the controversy the debate is a good opportunity for the school.

“Debates, particularly when they’re in municipal politics… there’s always the question of who gets invited,” he said.

The debate is at 7:30 p.m. at Davis Campus. It is open to members of the board and to the media.