Holness calls Chamber of Commerce ‘undemocratic’ after snub of debate

Holness got the 10 percent support required to participate, but not in a poll paid for by a media organization under House rules.

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Mayoral candidate Balarama Holness is crying badly after being excluded from the economic debate Monday night before the Montreal Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.

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Chamber of Commerce rules require debate participants to have candidates who run in at least 75 percent of Montreal’s constituencies and have garnered at least 10 percent support in an independent poll commissioned by a media organization.

While Holness, who leads the Montreal Movement, got 10 percent of voting intentions in a Léger poll published in early October, the poll was paid for by Projet Montréal, the current administration party. That doesn’t make it an independent poll in the eyes of the Chamber of Commerce.

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“It’s disappointing,” Holness said Monday in a telephone interview. “The Chamber of Commerce is a renowned institution in Montreal. The fact that they have excluded me from the debate marks them as an undemocratic barrier in the municipal elections of 2021. It sends the wrong message to businesses in Montreal.

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“Léger’s polls are not influenced by who sends them,” he added. “Projet Montréal paid for the survey, but Léger remains independent.”

The incumbent mayor, Valérie Plante, and her predecessor, Denis Coderre, will be the only two candidates facing off in Monday’s sold-out debate, which will take place at a downtown hotel. Key topics for discussion will include the future of downtown, the fluidity of transportation, the environmental transition, large projects, and taxes.


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