An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN semi-officially got underway Friday night (Feb. 10, 2017).
Unofficially, it’s been going on for many months. Officially, it won’t start for a few weeks yet.
But Friday night was the first all-candidates’ forum, sort of. I say sort of, because it was sort of a hybrid event, focused on Kamloops air quality. The candidates were a bit of an add-on.
That is, the candidates who showed up. The B.C. Liberals were the only party not represented (Barb Nederpel, the NDP candidate in Kamloops-North Thompson, didn’t attend, but Nancy Bepple, running for the party in the Kamloops-South Thompson riding, did).
Neither Todd Stone nor Peter Milobar was there, and their absence didn’t go unnoticed.
It may have been that Stone and Milobar had other things to do that night. One wonders, though, because the B.C. Liberals have a track record of avoiding a lot of all-candidates’ forums during election campaigns. In the past, they’ve taken the approach that it’s worthwhile only to attend a couple of the largest ones, and stay away from the smaller forums, especially those hosted by special interest groups.
Granted, while one should avoid stereotyping a crowd or making generalizations, the Friday night audience at TRU had the appearance of not being dominated by Liberals supporters. And it was a small crowd, about 60, in a very big room.
Nevertheless, hosted by Michael Mehta of TRU, the format worked nicely and important stuff was discussed: forest practices, air pollution, public transportation, bio-solids, Ajax. A new air monitoring system was explained.
The audience seemed to appreciate the fact candidates had taken the time to talk to them. The candidates, for their part, showed by attending that they understand MLAs represent everyone, and that they respect the democratic process.
Let’s hope the B.C. Liberals will do the same this election and that Friday night wasn’t the start of a trend.