Pitt Meadows mayoral candidates nix TV debate

Gary Paller and Michael Hayes couldn’t attend Shaw event in Vancouver

Pitt Meadows mayoralty candidate John Becker is calling out his rivals, Michael Hayes and Gary Paller, for pulling out of a televised debate.

“I am disappointed  because this would have been the only opportunity for the three mayoral candidates to have their own debate on the issues; for me, the four ‘Ts’ – tax relief, transparent government, transportation and teamwork at City Hall,” said Becker.

“As I door-knock, it’s clear that our citizens want to talk issues with candidates that understand the complex issues facing our city.”

The TV event was slated for one hour, and Shaw Cable was going to have two panelists asking questions of the candidates, covering four or five issues in-depth.

Tim Chung, the anchor for Shaw’s multicultural channel, and Bianca Solterbeck, the host of Shaw’s election coverage, were going to host the show, which was scheduled for 10 a.m. on Nov. 3 in the Shaw Tower on West Cordova, Vancouver.

Becker said he was prepared for a professional debate, with would-be mayors going head-to-head.

Local all-candidates meetings will include 10 more people for council, not just the three for mayor.

“I remain ready, willing and able to debate one or both of the other candidates at any time or place and on any issue,” said Becker. “I note that there are no scheduling conflicts on the political calendar at the time scheduled for the debate.”

Paller simply refused to participate, and when told about Becker’s critical comments responded with: “I don’t care to go there, and debate anything with him.

“This is still a free country.

“I have other things that’s I’m busy doing,” Paller said. “I don’t have time to go downtown to debate Mr. Becker.”

Hayes said he worked with Shaw to try to reschedule the televised debate, but they could not accommodate him.

“I had meetings back-to-back, I just couldn’t do it,” said Hayes. “It’s not that I didn’t want to do the debate. We just couldn’t find a date.”

He noted that there is a local debate that evening, at the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre gymnasium (12027 Harris Rd.), and he will attend.

“I will definitely be there – I wouldn’t miss it.”

That all-candidates meeting will be hosted by the Pitt Meadows Community Association. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the debate will be at 7 p.m.

He also plans to attend another all-candidates meeting scheduled for Nov. 6 at the Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall (12460 Harris Rd.) at 7 p.m., sponsored by the Ridge Meadows Chamber of Commerce.