Here are my initial thoughts on tonight’s debate, among the leaders: B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan, B.C. Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson and B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau; moderated by Shachi Kurl. Note that I am currently an undecided voter, both before and after this debate. Also, my lens is feminist.
John Horgan (NDP, current premier) held the party line, often referencing the Liberal Party’s 16 years of rule as being unable to solve the problems still facing them today, like ICBC, housing, and the overdose crisis.
He often referenced the agreement his party had with the Greens. He never answered (to my satisfaction) why he called the current election beyond a power grab to do away with the minority government, breaking his agreement with the Greens one year ahead of the pre-determined election debate.
When asked about addressing potential unconscious biases that come with being white, Horgan made the unfortunate statement of saying that he doesn’t see colour. This type of statement is typically understood to come from people who are completely unaware of their own white privilege. He addressed this later in the Q&A, saying that he misspoke and he clearly still has his own work to do.
Both the Greens and the Liberals call Horgan untrustworthy, Furstenau because of his broken promise to the Greens NOT to call an early election, and Wilkinson just because that’s their longstanding mantra.
The candidates all had the opportunity to ask their own questions of one other leader, and Horgan split his questions between both leaders, asking two questions of Wilkinson and two of Furstenau.
Andrew Wilkinson (Liberal, Leader of the Opposition) seemed to cover the gamut in terms of being the empathetic leader: He’s been a doctor and deeply understands the commitment to patient care; he’s also been a lawyer for 25 years; andlastly, he understands poverty being a child of (Caucasian) immigrants where he moved a lot and even had to have a paper route (and moved into a world that opens doors for white men as doctors and lawyers).
He seemed to be unbothered by facts at times, more so than the other two.
While Wilkinson acknowledged the recent sexist comments made by one of his party members to a member of the NDP, his only question addressed to Sonia Furstenau was about the viability of John Horgan as the continued leader of BC. Yep. That happened.
Wilkinson repeatedly accused the NDP of creating division in BC, rich coming from the party that railed hard against “special interest groups” throughout the 16 years of Liberal reign.
The Liberals made a commitment to debt to get through the current pandemic, with an eye on eliminating the debt in five years after a vaccine is found.
When it comes to pipeline protesters, Wilkinson felt that the matter should be settled by the courts and not by protesting. It is my experience that justice is available through the courts … to those who have the money to pay for it. With Legal Aid still grossly scaled back (very few can afford the $250 to $400 hourly fees that legal representation can cost), the Canadian courts have become a path to justice for those who can afford it.
Wilkinson awkwardly forced smile at the camera on closing, and it was a notable moment in and of itself.
Sonia Furstenau (Leader of the Green Party), in my mind, was the clear winner of this debate. She became the leader of the Green Party just four weeks ago, and this was a great introduction to her as a political leader.
Wilkinson’s one question to her on the value of Horgan’s continued leadership was handled quite well, directing the answer back to her politics and leadership style.
She frequently emphasized that now (ie, the pandemic) is the time to park partisan politics and start leading in the interest of the residents of BC.
In keeping with what seems to be expected from women in politics, her voice was kept at an even keel, and her emotional response capped.
Her most passionate moment came when she addressed her concern for the ongoing removal of Indigenous children from their homes, at rates that reflect the horror of historical rates.
“We aren’t all equal,” she said, clearly feeling her way through the question, adding, “I wish we were.”
She wore her heart in the open, and this was clearly (in my mind) a strength.
The Greens were the only party who clearly took a stance against fracking.
Her central message was a call to stop letting partisanship get in the way of solving some real problems that MUST be addressed. Even at the Q&A at the end, she noted that each of the two had valuable important things to say. It doesn’t serve anyone to be disrespectful with each other, we have to be in service to the people we represent.
Moderator Shachi Kurl asked excellent, hard-hitting questions of all candidates, and kept tight control of the debate and the timelines. Compared to the two US debates I’ve watched earlier this month, I am once again proud to be a Canadian!
Did you watch? If yes, who do you place as the winner of this debate?
Who do you place as the winner of tonight's provincial debate?
- John Horgan (NDP) (34%, 26 Votes)
- Andrew Wilkinson (Liberal) (9%, 7 Votes)
- Sonia Furstenau (Greens) (57%, 43 Votes)
Total Voters: 76