Mississauga mayoral presumed frontrunner declines to attend all future debates

By Michelle Mackey

Opponents and voters were left disappointed Monday night as hours before a housing debate, set to feature the top three Mississauga mayoral candidates, one of the frontrunners dropped out.

Carolyn Parrish announced Monday she would also not be attending any future debates prior to the byelection set for next month.

Kelly Singh, Executive Director of More Homes Mississauga, the advocacy group hosting the housing debate, said she found out Parrish was dropping out through the media.

“I actually reached out to Carolyn to say, ‘Hey, I’m sure it’s just a rumour,’ and that is when she wrote me back to say that she was not going to be attending. She said that had to do with attacks she was receiving from other campaigns,” shared Singh.

In a statement posted on social media, her campaign wrote, “Our campaign will continue to focus on a positive, productive approach, engaging directly with Mississauga residents.”

“Carolyn is eager to continue meeting with individuals and groups in the short time that remains until election day. We regret any inconvenience,” it continued.”

CityNews reached out to Parrish’s campaign, but did not receive a response.

However, her statement was not good enough for some of her fellow candidates, including Dipika Damerla and Alvin Tedjo, who recent polls place in a tight second and third respectively behind Parrish.

“To have the front-running candidate abandon those responsibilities to come and meet voters, I think is appalling,” said Tedjo.

“She’s only attended one debate and at that debate she embarrassed herself, made some racist comments, made some discriminatory comments and now she’s afraid,” added Damerla.

Damerla was referring to Parrish’s recent comments on refugees which she addressed shortly after in an interview with CityNews.

“I think the concern was the response to a question on refugees and I said they are sitting around all day and they’ve got a roof over their heads, they’re fed, but they aren’t given anything to do… that part was cut off,” said Parrish. “I think the hard part is when you bring refugees into Canada, you have to get the kids into schools and you have to get the people into jobs even if they aren’t there skills that they’ve got, move them around, make them feel part of it.”

Meanwhile Damerla and Tedjo shared their housing policies Monday evening, there was a glaring elephant in the room in the form of an empty podium, and voters noticed.

“It should have been a good healthy debate… it probably doesn’t look to good on her to pull out at the last minute,” said one voter present at the debate.

A total of 20 candidates are running for mayor and Mississauga residents will head to the polls on June 10 with 25 per cent of voters still undecided, based on recent polling.

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