On the evening of Friday, October 11th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm, the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce and the Sooke Multi-Belief Initiative co-hosted a Conversation with the Candidates at the Edward Milne Community School Theatre. Well over 200 people attended.
The event was hosted by Sooke’s mayor Maja Tait, with an introduction by Rosanne Day. Candidates in attendance were (in alphabetical order) Randall Garrison of the New Democratic Party; Jeremy Gustafson of the People’s Party of Canada; Jamie Hammond of the Liberal Party; David Merner of the Green Party; Philip Ney an Independent; and Tyson Strandlund of the Communist Party.
The event used a unique format not commonly seen at all-candidates debates. Instead of engaging in a political debate, candidates were asked to explain their visions for the future in a non-confrontational way.
- Social Inequity: The gap between the rich and the poor in our country is steadily increasing, and access to essential resources such as healthcare, education and other social services is unequally distributed in our society. What are your party’s plans to create a more fair and equitable society ensuring the needs and potential of our First Nations, youth, families, and the elderly are met?
- Affordability and Taxes: These are major concerns for all Canadians. How will you assist those that are struggling to meet their basic needs for food, shelter and clothing, address the rising costs of providing social services, and be fiscally responsible?
- Climate Change: What are your specific plans for environmental stewardship?
- Willingness to Work with Other Parties in Government? The adversarial conflicts of elections carry over into Parliament. Rather than simply focusing on transparency and accountability, what are you and your party going to do to work constructively and positively with the other parties to create a better, more unified society for all Canadians?
Notable moments: Ney (independent) saying that a certain amount of suffering was required in life and that diminishing fertility was a concern. Both Ney and Gustafson (PPC) felt that the people were being lied to when it comes to climate change. Gustafson would address the housing crisis by limiting immigration, thereby lowering the demand for housing. Hammond (Lib) in a moment of levity would be sure to learn from Garrison (NDP, incumbent) on how to survive Ottawa once he is elected. Merner (Green) explained his own principle-driven move from the Liberal party to the Greens. Strandlund (Communist Party) called on a new style of leadership, one less motivated by money and more by a concern for society at large. And Garrison’s years of experience were abundantly clear.
The event was recorded, and once its production is complete, SPN will air the debate. Stay tuned!