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The StarPhoenix, Saturday, September 20, 2008

Clarke no-show at forums

The first candidates' forums in the Desnethe riding won't include the incumbent. Clarke said he has several reasons for taking a pass on the forum planned for Meadow Lake Sept. 25: His schedule is full; he doesn't want to get into a debate before the leaders' debate Oct. 2 for fear of contradicting leader Stephen Harper; and he's not a big fan of forums in any case.

"Usually with a debate, you only get about 20 people to show up. And what happens is it's usually staged. You get people from other camps asking questions and it just turns into support for one candidate."

Clarke has committed to an Oct. 9 forum on MBC radio, which will reach more of the riding.

Marjaleena Repo, the co-campaign manager for Liberal candidate David Orchard, said Clarke has also passed on a second Sept. 25 forum in Spiritwood and one scheduled for La Ronge Oct. 1.

"This is quite shocking to me," she said.

Clarke said he's got a different style than Orchard.

"The one thing I've noticed about David Orchard is all he wants to do is debate," Clarke said. "Debate debate debate debate in every town. My opinion is he doesn't want to go and meet the voters."

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