CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - All the candidates for Charlottetown’s Ward 1 may have showed up to a Q&A with residents Thursday night, but not all of them participated.
Paul Haddad took a seat in the front row at St. Paul’s Church among 50 other members of the public. He refused to take part citing a conflict of interest.
The Charlottetown Downtown Residents Association organized the event. Ward 1 candidate Laurent Beaulieu has been involved with the organization.
“They told me to come and participate and I told them a long time ago I am not interested,” Haddad told The Guardian.
“The other candidates declined also. I am a man who sticks to my word.”
Haddad said he was under the impression the other candidates were not taking part.
“They weren’t participating all month, they weren’t involved in this and just recently they changed their mind at the last second.”
Outside the meeting room, and away from the crowd, Haddad pulled an invitation from his pocket with Beaulieu’s business card attached.
This, the candidate said, is proof of the conflict of interest.
“That is how they (residents) are receiving their invitation.”
“If this makes me a bad guy, and I shouldn’t get involved in these things then so be it. It’s just a city council job, let’s not get excited folks. It’s a small town (of) 36,000 — this is not New York.”
Another candidate, Ron Dowling, was also worried about how fair the Q&A would be with fellow candidate Beaulieu a member of the association hosting the event.
“I made a decision at the end of the day to attend,” said Dowling. “I talked to one of the board members and got reassurance the process would be fair open and unbiased. I just made up my mind very recently to attend.
“At the end of the day I made a decision to go because I felt in important to meet directly with as many people I could. It was a personal choice, and I don’t fault Paul for his, he harboured the same concerns I did.”
Another candidate, Alanna Jankov, said she didn’t even receive a physical invitation to the Q&A. She heard about the event while on the campaign trail.
“The organization (CDRA) has an important role in downtown, they are a strong voice for that area, so I wouldn’t want to muddy the organization by rumours and innuendos of a candidate’s direct interest in an organization,” Jankov said in regard to Beaulieu’s involvement.
Leo Killorn, who is also running in Ward 1, may have had similar concerns, but in the end thought it was a fair Q&A.
“I understand others concerns.”
No one seems to know how Beaulieu’s card ended up on the invitation to the event. Not even Beaulieu himself.
“First of all, the business cards, I had 1,000 printed. I’ve got about 50 left. Where are the 950 now? They are out there in the public. How did my card get stapled to this? I have no idea.”
As for Beaulieu’s involvement with CDRA, he said he started his campaign eight months ago. Then he was asked by a neighbour to join CDRA and eventually started working with them on heritage. He said, however, he stepped away from the organization in May.
“If this makes me a bad guy, and I shouldn’t get involved in these things then so be it,” said Beaulieu. “It’s just a city council job, let’s not get excited folks. It’s a small town (of) 36,000 — this is not New York.”