Conservative candidate Julie Javier was a no-show at a candidates' forum Tuesday night in the city's North End.

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This article was published 16/11/2010 (3805 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Liberal candidate Kevin Lamoureux (left) and NDP candidate Kevin Chief talk at the forum over Conservative Julie Javier's empty seat Tuesday.

BORIS.MINKEVICH@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Liberal candidate Kevin Lamoureux (left) and NDP candidate Kevin Chief talk at the forum over Conservative Julie Javier's empty seat Tuesday.

Conservative candidate Julie Javier was a no-show at a candidates' forum Tuesday night in the city's North End.

But more than 200 people crowded into the small Burrows Resource Centre -- a room that would normally seat about 100 people -- to hear the other six candidates.

The forum's organizers, the Burrows Central Residents Council gave no explanation for Javier's absence.

Liberal Kevin Lamoureux wasted little time in taking advantage of her absence. The forum began with each candidate giving brief opening statements, followed by each answering a question supplied by themselves and then directing that question to another candidate of their choice.

Lamoureux directed his question on how to better accommodate immigrants into Canadian society to Javier -- which drew loud laughter and applause from the partisan crowd.

The federal byelection in Winnipeg North is one of three being held across Canada on Nov. 29. The local contest is to replace Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who gave up what appeared to be a safe seat for the NDP to run unsuccessfully against Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz in last month's civic election.

The crowd offered each of the remaining four minor candidates polite applause as they answered a series of questions. But the room was clearly divided between supporters of Lamoureux and New Democrat Kevin Chief, with each of them drawing loud cheers and applause with every comment.

There were no key political moments in the evening, with the candidates touching on most of the common daily issues: crime and safety, jobs, immigration, global warming and gun control.

Chief, who grew up in the Burrows neighbourhood, repeatedly referred to his job at the University of Winnipeg, where he worked with youth, and his close ties with Winnipeg police Chief Keith McCaskill.

Lamoureux opened by referring to his 18 years as the Liberal MLA for Inkster and how his experience representing the area will result in benefits to the community if he wins on election night.

Green party candidate John Harvie admitted several times he has no expectation of winning the election, adding he believes it is a race between Lamoureux and Chief.

But Pirate party candidate Jeff Coleman said he wasn't prepared to concede the outcome of the election.

"Two years ago my political party didn't exist; today we have over 2,000 members," Coleman said. "When people stand up, they produce change. I don't think it's ever a good idea to consider the outcome of democracy a foregone conclusion."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca