Approximately 35 area residents interested in hearing from their Halton Catholic District School Board trustee candidates at a forum Wednesday night didn't get the chance when the meeting was cancelled before it began because one of the candidates didn't show.
Long-time Halton Hills trustee Irene McCauley's son left a message cancelling on behalf of his mother Wednesday afternoon and said he wanted to present his mother's platform at the forum, said Anne Zebarth, spokesperson fof the Christ the King Catholic Secondary School Council.
She said the council made the difficult decision to cancel the meeting "in the spirit of being neutral" and did not allow the other candidate, Rosanna Palmieri, to outline her platform and answer questions.
"It was a very difficult decision to cancel the forum because we just want to be equally fair to both candidates," said Zebarth. "We wanted the process to reflect positively on the public service we were providing to the Catholic voters of this community and we would not have moved forward if both candidates had not initially replied to our invitation, which they did. When (Palmieri) found out that Irene wasn't going to be there just before the meeting was about to start, she immediately left the building."
From her room in Credit Valley Hospital Thursday afternoon, McCauley said she was planning to attend the meeting until a family crisis arose preventing her from going.
"I had permission from the doctor and I was all ready to go," said McCauley. "This is the first thing I have ever missed. I tried to get there as best I could. I have never missed anything in 26 years and I felt really bad."
She said she has been in the rehabilitation unit at the hospital for at least a month following a kidney transplant in July, and a "slight heart attack."
McCauley said she had been doing well and was able to come home from the hospital on weekends and some weekdays, but an infection had set her progress back about two weeks.
She said she is hoping to be released from hospital next week.
Despite her recent health issues, McCauley is confident she can do the job of trustee.
"I have spoken to the heart doctor and kidney doctor. I'm in better shape than I ever would be. The doctor said I was quite capable of running for election and quite capable of doing the job," said McCauley.
In respect to cancellation of the meeting Wednesday, Palmieri said voters should be able to learn directly what the candidates have to say and an all-candidates meeting is the "ideal forum" to do that.
"The public is entitled to find answers to their questions and discuss the issues. It's important to keep people informed about who will represent their best interests during the next term," said Palmieri.
Area resident Salvatore Bruno was disappointed the meeting was cancelled last minute.
"School trustee is an important position as they have a vote on school budgets and input on the spiritual education of our children," said Bruno. "It is my responsibility as a concerned parent to be informed on who the best candidate would be. I did not get that opportunity Wednesday night. Instead I have to make my own attempts to meet with the candidates."