NDP candidate issues a challenge to his opponents

Letter to the Editor:

In each community, citizens will likely only get one opportunity to see all four candidates for MLA in the same place; the all candidates debate.

As someone who has been involved in local government for 15 years, I have attended many all candidate debates, and the one thing I have noticed as the years go by is that these events are providing voters with less and less opportunity to put candidates to the test.

We’ve moved to an era of debates hosted almost exclusively by Chambers of Commerce. It is becoming the norm to have all questions put to candidates decided in advance by a ‘question committee’. And now, in many communities, those questions are provided to candidates in advance.

We’ve seen an infiltration of Harper-style politics even here in Columbia River Revelstoke as we move to a format that essentially allows candidates to read from their party platforms. Frankly, you can find the party platforms on the internet.

I believe that the people in this area deserve better.

I believe that debates must assist voters in answering fundamental questions. Does this candidate possess the ability to think on one’s feet? Is this candidate knowledgeable and well-spoken? Will this candidate remain gracious under pressure?

Part of proving one’s ability to serve as MLA is to welcome difficult question, and be prepared, in the moment, to answer them.

I have put forward my position to the Chambers of Commerce in the area, and on March 17th, I put forward a challenge to my fellow candidates to work with debate hosts to find formats that better serve the voting public.

It is my opinion that any candidate that does not encourage fulsome debate in an All Candidates forum does not actually understand the position that is being pursued. The position is to stand as the representative of the people, not simply to spout a party position.

I challenge all of the candidates running for the position of MLA to choose a format for debates that will amplify the engagement of voters rather than discourage it.

Gerry Taft
BC NDP candidate for
Columbia River Revelstoke