An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
PITY THE POOR civic election candidates. One of their burdens during campaigns is to respond to a seemingly unending series of questionnaires from special-interest groups.
Business groups, social causes, environmentalists, arts groups — you name it, they all want to know what candidates plan to do to pander to them if they’re elected.
The worst kind of question is the “Yes or No” question. The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce released video-taped responses to its questionnaire on Friday. One of the three questions asked for a straight Yes or No to what the chamber calls “14 hot-button issues.”
Without context, the candidates were expected to provide a simple yay or nay, and most of them fell right into the trap.
It’s alarming to listen to council hopefuls happily give Yes or No answers to complicated issues like tax incentives, a convention centre, parking, needle buy-back programs, pulling land from the ALR for residential development and so on.
How could the chamber possibly expect an intelligent Yes or No with no information on costs, timing or process, no idea of the impact on budgeting or hidden consequences?
But here’s where the alert candidates called the chamber’s bluff. Arjun Singh, Jimmy Johal and Dennis Walsh simply declined the entire question, Johal and Singh calling it “unfair” to render judgment on controversial issues without explanation, and Walsh pointing out that issues are never “black and white.”
Good for them. Several others chose to pass or add qualifiers on some of the options.
The master, though, was Ken Christian, who went along with the 14-point quick snappers but then explained his position on each and every one in a short sentence, ignoring the Yes-No rule.
And that’s what every candidate should have done with this fundamentally unfair exercise. But, it does provide a clue on which candidates are on their toes and unwilling to declare positions on complex issues without all the facts.
Mel Rothenburger’s Armchair Mayor editorials appear Mondays through Thursdays on CFJC- TV. His Armchair Mayor column is published Saturdays on ArmchairMayor.ca and CFJC Today. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.