THE lineup for the Downtown BIZ's mayoral forum remains subject to debate.
David Sanders -- one of four mayoral candidates not invited to the Sept. 10 event -- put out a statement Thursday morning saying the BIZ changed its mind and he and all registered candidates could participate.
Not so, said executive director Stefano Grande. Grande said the lineup had not changed but could not explain why Sanders said all the candidates had been invited.
"No, we haven't revised our position," on who is invited to the forum, Grande said.
Mike Vogiatzakis said he met with BIZ officials Wednesday and was told he wouldn't be stopped from attending but he's not invited. If he does attend, there's no guarantee the moderators would ask him questions.
"That's not an invitation," Vogiatzakis said. "I show up and what if they don't ask me any questions? No thanks."
The Downtown BIZ came under scrutiny last week when the uninvited candidates at the time -- Michel Fillion, Sanders and Vogiatzakis -- complained they had been excluded.
The BIZ only invited five mayoral candidates -- Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Gord Steeves, Brian Bowman, Paula Havixbeck and Robert-Falcon Ouellette.
Grande said last week BIZ officials invited who they consider to be the top four or five candidates and there isn't enough time for all candidates to participate.
The first mayoral candidate debate of the season was held in mid- June by the St. Boniface Francophone Chamber of Commerce, which invited all seven of the declared candidates at the time.
All declared candidates -- now counting nine with the entry last week of Hazem Aslan -- participated in a mayoral forum Tuesday night sponsored by the Manitoba Filipino Business Council.
Grande said he felt the Free Press's coverage of the issue last week was unfair because the paper failed to state at least one other organization holding a mayoral forum had also not invited all the candidates.
Late Thursday, The BIZ released a statement to the Free Press, confirming Vogiatzakis' understanding of how the four not-invited candidates will be treated.
"If Mr. Sanders or any other candidates not (invited) express an interest in attending the forum as well, we will gladly provide a spot on the stage for them and our moderators Shannon Sampert (Winnipeg Free Press) and Richard Cloutier (CJOB), who at their discretion, will direct questions when appropriate," said Jason Syvixay, the BIZ's managing director. The Free Press and CJOB were part of planning the forum's format.
Sanders said he still plans to attend the event and expects the moderators to treat him as fairly as the invited candidates, adding he expects to receive his share of questions during the event.