Ontario PC candidate in Hamilton Centre byelection no-show at TV debate


Published March 8, 2023 at 11:05 am

Pete Wiesner, whose campaign literature bills himself as “A Strong Voice for Hamilton,” was voiceless at the televised debate ahead of the Hamilton Centre provincial byelection.

Cable 14 in Hamilton held a debate on Tuesday night, on the eve of advance polls opening for the vote to elect the downtown riding’s new representative at Queen’s Park. Wiesner, a sergeant with Hamilton Police who is running for the governing Ontario PC Party led by Premier Doug Ford, did not attend. The debate went ahead with three candidates — Sarah Jama of the Ontario New Democrats (NDP), Lucia Iannantuono of the Green Party of Ontario, and Deirdre Pike of the Ontario Liberal Party (listed alphabetically by name).

“The PC Candidate was invited and declined to participate in tonight’s debate,” a tweet from Cable 14’s account explained to an inquiry.

Laura Babcock, who hosts an online current affairs program called TheOShow, also stated Wiesner declined an invitation to appear. The women running under the Green, Liberal and NDP banners each agreed to speak in a format where their views would be challenged.

In the Ontario election last spring, only 1-of-5 Ontario PC candidates in Hamilton ridings participated in the community channel’s debate. Flamborough—Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly, as an incumbent, was the sole exception. Current Tourism, Culture and Sport Minister Neil Lumsden did not participate in the channel’s Hamilton East—Stoney Creek all-candidates debate.

Lumsden told a Hamilton media outlet “we do things as a party… and, as corny as it sounds, if the decision is made, then the decision is made.”

Presently, the most recent update on Wiesner’s campaign website is a post attributed to former mayor and Liberal member of Parliament Bob Bratina playing up the need for Hamilton Centre to have “a voice in the provincial government.”

The riding/area has long been represented by the NDP, which has only formed government once in Ontario (from 1990-95). Mayor Andrea Horwath was the MPP from 2004 till mid-’22 (including three years in the old riding of Hamilton East).

“(T)he Premier can’t help but take notice if a PC candidate is chosen to represent Hamilton Centre at Queen’s Park,” wrote Bratina, who ran for mayor last fall and finished third with 12.27 per cent support.

The work that Wiesner (pictured top, left) handles with HPS likely involves communication skills. The 22-years officer with HPS, per his candidate bio, “(leads) led the Crisis Response Branch providing immediate response and support to those marginalized by homelessness, addiction, and mental health challenges.” Wiesner has served in the capacity since 2019.

The byelection was triggered after Horwath resigned as MPP in order to seek, and ultimately win, the mayoralty.

Advance polls in the riding are open today, Thursday, and Friday. Election day is on Thursday, March 16. Further info for voters is available at voterinformationservice.elections.on.ca.

(Cover photo: Instagram/@petewiesnerpc.)

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