EDITORIAL – Why candidates shouldn’t attend single-issue election forums

An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

SOME PEOPLE are concerned about the fact B.C. Liberal candidates Peter Milobar and Todd Stone haven’t accepted invitations to attend certain forums. It came up again with respect to last night’s (April 13, 2017) forum at TRU co-sponsored by the TRU Faculty Association, CUPE 3500, CUPE 4879, and Kamloops Thompson Teachers Association.

I’ve commented here a couple of times about the Liberal record on avoiding some of the forums, but I can see their point of view.

There are, actually, several good reasons why candidates should not attend so-called single-issue forums:

  • Single-issue forums get too detailed. You have to do way too much homework on whatever the topic is.
  • It’s too hard to use weasel words at forums, so if you can reduce the number of forums you have to attend, and have a plausible-sounding excuse such as “I’d rather be door-knocking and talking to people on their doorsteps,” it really helps.
  • Single-issue forums draw tough crowds, especially for candidates from the governing party. Why take heat from a room full of people when you could be holding court with a friendly crowd at a coffee party or BBQ?
  • Single-issue forums tend to attract people who know a lot about a particular issue. There’s no fun in arguing with people who know what they’re talking about.
  • You lose control of the message at forums, especially single-issue ones. Way better if the message goes out with as little fear of contradiction as possible. Use your media dollars to full advantage, because the other parties probably don’t have as much in the piggy bank as you do, and you can win that game.
  • You have to think on your feet at forums. Scripted party-line talking points don’t work nearly as well there.
  • If candidates for the governing party don’t show up for a forum, hopefully fewer people will attend, delegitimizing the other candidates who have taken the time to be there. Which, in turn, may diminish the democratic process a little, but that’s just collateral damage.
  • Anyway, what’s so important about topics like the environment and education that they deserve discussion on their own? You’d think from the way some people talk that the future depends on such things. Get over it.
  • Besides, exceptions can always be made to the single-issue rule, like when the chamber of commerce asks you to tape a video on business topics for their website.

Generally, though, single-issue forums are best ignored if at all possible.

About Mel Rothenburger (5782 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

10 Comments on EDITORIAL – Why candidates shouldn’t attend single-issue election forums

  1. Rudy Haugeneder // April 15, 2017 at 10:50 AM // Reply

    But some issues are worthy of a full forum debate. Former Premier Dave Barrett would support this. In the death throes of dementia he can’t. Ex-Socred Premier Bennett also would have supported it. He recently died of the dread disease.
    Support voluntary euthanasia.
    The lousy level of care provided seniors, especially those suffering dementia and stuffed into so-called government health care facilities and especially in BC, is in many cases almost criminal, perhaps actually criminal. But nobody in authority, including geriatric educators, is willing do to anything. And if you complain about what is happening to a family member and/or spouse, the managers, psychiatrists and supervising nurses just shrug their overly well-paid shoulders and blame the system while making life even more miserable for the victims. And their professional associations and provincial medical bureaucrats circle the wagons, ignore the truth as they accept the lack of care, and take paid time off whenever possible, meaning dementia patients get even less care. The system, whether in Saskatchewan, BC, and every other province must be dramatically overhauled, managers and others fired, and politicians who support the existing system must be defeated; all of them. Hopefully they all end their lives in these facilities and suffer worse than those they so causally and carelessly hurt. Shame of these despots. Support voluntary euthanasia.

  2. Elections are about real issues and their details anymore. They are about retail politics, scandals, attack ads, fear-mongering and empty promises. TRU would not be an appropriate venue for Mr. Stone or Mr. Milobar anyway, because they’re not interested in the many facets of education. They are only interested in the university in so far as it creates wealth/jobs and supports the one-dimensional liberal agenda improving society by pumping more money into it.

  3. Actually TRU Faculty, CUPE and Teachers would be a relatively easy crowd to disperse with a little logic because let’s face it, none of them shine in altruism and inclusiveness, despite the rhetoric.

  4. It comes down to a single issue why I won’t vote for Mr. Milobar. Sorry …… the party platform, amount spent on the campaign and the number of people helping out as volunteers ….. none of those things matter.
    Call me closed minded if you’d like; my hide is thick enough to take it.
    It narrows down my decision now to two others and my conscience is quite at ease.

  5. great article Mel ! The title threw me until I read the full post. You are absolutely right, why should candidates have to educate themselves on the issues, and risk being shown to be the fool you might be. Much easier ( like you said ) to throw out non answers at a multi subject debate .

  6. David Goar // April 14, 2017 at 8:28 AM // Reply

    Well said. The saddest aspect is that the electorate allows candidates for the governing party to avoid the challenges of democracy with relative impunity.

  7. Cynthia Ross Friedman // April 14, 2017 at 8:17 AM // Reply

    Ha ha good one Mel! This column will be read by many thanks to its brilliant hook.

    Yesterday’s forum was super interesting and really excellent. Those six candidates are the brightest and most inspiring to date.

    Why oh why do those disrespectful and apparently unethical Christy Party candidates have such a following? And what the heck is an economy? Where are the family docs in Kamloops? C’mon Kamloops…use some critical thinking. Low taxes on the rich + breaks for corporations = you suffer.

    And six candidates…sit down as a group and decide what to do to defeat Christy. Please.

  8. Men hate those to whom they have to lie. -Victor Hugo, poet, novelist, and dramatist (26 Feb 1802-1885)

  9. Spot on!!!!

  10. Well said. Sad but true that it’s not politically expedient to actually engage in depth on issues with people who care deeply about them. Another bit of collateral damage might be that the candidates from the larger parties become more educated about inconvenient truths, or (heaven forbid) develop a bit of empathy with those who think differently. Quite right: better to avoid them altogether.

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