Voters deserve better than meet and greet

Candidates forum Friday night found lacking

The federal election meet and greet event held in Invermere last week was not particularly useful for a number of reasons. To start off, only 20-30 people attended. Blame was hucked back and forth, but regardless of the truth of who actually dropped the ball, the end result was that the event was not publicized until nearly the day of the event. No one reached out to the Pioneer and when we reached out to organizers, no details were sent back to us until after we sent that week’s edition to press.

So that was problem #1.

Problem #2: The Liberal party’s campaign manager assured the Pioneer that all candidates were free and interested in coming out. However, the Libertarian Party and Animal Activist Party candidates did not show up, nor did the Conservative candidate. Historically, this riding has always voted Conservative until the last election, when the NDP narrowly won by 282 votes. (The Kootenay-Columbia riding was created in 1996. While it has had adjustments since, the riding remained largely the same until 2012 when a federal boundaries redistribution added Nelson, Salmo and Kaslo to the riding.) In the 2015 election, 21 of the Columbia Valley’s 24 polling stations (including advance polling stations) picked Conservative as their top choice, with the other three polling stations NDP. So, to not have the Conservative candidate at the meeting did a disservice to the public. Based on the history of the riding, and specifically the Columbia Valley, voters want to hear from the Conservative party. It was an unbalanced event to have Mr. Morrison missing.

Problem #3: This was originally planned to be an all-candidate’s forum, but was turned into a ‘meet-and-greet’. Then, at the meeting itself, an attendee was somehow tasked with ‘moderating’ the event like a forum. While he interjected a couple times to make sure all candidates were able to answer a question, there were no timers and no set questions. Only a few actual questions were asked and candidates were allowed to take a lengthy amount of time to respond. There were also some unprofessional jabs that did nothing to add to the discourse.

While the evening was beneficial in that it put faces to the names, and it was an opportunity to meet four of the candidates, the Invermere event did little to add to the overall education of voters leading up to the 43rd Canadian general election, set for October 21st.

Hopefully residents were not relying on a formal all-candidates debate to make up their minds on where to put their X in this election, as it does not appear one is going to happen. If someone does plan another debate, let’s hope they learn from the mistakes of this one before going ahead with it. Voters deserve no less.

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