Wasn’t that a party?
The Uxbridge Cosmos has a long enjoyed the tradition of being the only enterprise in the township that hosts open forums for all candidates, all levels of government, when it comes election time. We added another forum to this long list last Wednesday evening, several weeks in advance of the provincial election to be held on June 2. We sent out “save the dates” back in April, and formally invited all the candidates that we knew about at the very beginning of May. When we invited these candidates, we told them all about what was to be expected, including the format, the timeline, what would be available to them, that it would available to view online, and that we expected everyone in attendance – candidates, press, attendees, etc. – to wear a mask (which was perfectly within our rights to do, we checked). One candidate, who had RSVP’d ‘yes’ to attending, did ask whether she had a choice about the mask wearing edict. After sending back to her, and all the other attending candidates, the information that various levels of government had released regarding mask-wearing in enclosed spaces, I informed her that the Cosmos maintained its position on mask-wearing, and that her choice was whether to attend the forum or not. She chose not.
We point this out because people who chose to listen to said candidate (we don’t want to give her the satisfaction of naming her) just outside the arena doors apparently heard that she was “denied the right to join the political debate” and that she was “excluded”. She was offered every opportunity to take part in the forum; she chose to exclude herself.
Let’s be perfectly clear, here. This was our gig. We paid to rent the community centre, and as the renter, got to call the shots. As the publisher told those assembled at the forum, if we’d wanted anyone attending to wear yellow t-shirts and purple pants, and that those who wouldn’t need not bother stopping by, that’s how it would have been. Trouble is, those who have politicized the wearing of masks used it as a tool to lure those who were already on the same page into the parking lot. Purple pants never would have garnered the same attention, however, but would have been a lot more fun.
We’re glad that we provided an opportunity for “the outside candidate” to speak, as she likely wouldn’t have had that kind of platform if we hadn’t held our event. Too bad she was already preaching to the converted.
We weren’t being “undemocratic”. In fact, that one candidate helped us be even more democratic than usual. Democracy, you see, is about choice, and we offered a choice – pop on a mask, c’mon in, listen and learn from the three candidates who attended (another candidate who had RSVP’d ‘yes’ didn’t even bother to show up). Or, stay home and watch the event live on Facebook/YouTube. Attendees were offered a third choice – don’t wear a mask, stay outside and listen to just one person’s point of view. Oh, the options!
The Cosmos quite readily admits that it could have done more to relay to its readership that masks would be required at this event, and has already stated this on social media. Speaking of socials – all that vitriol on Facebook – rather entertaining, frankly. We love that the people of Uxbridge are ready to stand up and fight for what they believe, but wow! Pick a hill worth dying on, folks! As forum moderator Ted Barris put it, there we were, inside and gathered to partake in democracy while the people outside were complaining about masks, and people in Ukraine were having bombs dropped on them. Perspective is everything.