Thursday, April 30, 2009

Candidates face the voters at Prince Rupert debate

The three candidates running locally in this springs BC election met on Wednesday night at the Lester Centre for the Arts, eager to outline their platforms and accept questions from the public.

It was a lively crowd which assembled at the Centre, digesting the various ideas being offered and offering up their commentaries both in the accepted question format and with occasional outbursts directed to the stage.

In the end, it would seem that not many in attendance would be swayed away from their first choice of election day, the bulk of the audience appears to have been made up of supporters dedicated towards one party or the other.

The NDP candidate Gary Coons continued on the theme of concern over the current governance of the province by the Liberal party, relying on many of the issues that he has made public over his four years in opposition in Victoria.

Lisa Girbav representing the Green Party, stuck mainly to the talking points of her party, providing short outlines of the Green philosophy but not quite as much personal input into the issues as many might have hoped to have heard.

Herb Pond was the more polished of the three candidates, his many years in the public eye coming in handing in delivering his message, though he seemed to rely on much of his time as Mayor as the main thrust of his candidacy. Defending Liberal policies to date didn't seem to factor in as much in his participation, though he did pay some attention to such Liberal platform items as the Pacific Gateway and run of river power production to name a few.

Two of the three candidates weighed in on the potential of a raise to the minimum wage, a popular topic for those in the audience that may be working at low wage jobs at the moment, but an issue that probably scares the heck out of the small business owners that were also in attendance, they were more likely to find comfort in the thoughts of Mr. Pond who relayed the Liberal thoughts on that issue.

Interestingly enough, the Chances gaming centre seemed to become a centre piece of the debate on Wednesday, with the Green Party candidate suggesting a moratorium on further gaming centre development, the NDP candidate seeking to address poverty issues that might go hand in hand with the centres and the Liberal candidate reminding the audience that 95 local residents were employed by the centre, though he did say that there was a need for more access to treatment for people affected by social problems. It could be an Achilles heel for the former Mayor, for it was a constant topic of the last council the need for an addictions program in the Prince Rupert area, but one which never seemed to develop as was discussed.

The night ended on a rather bizarre note, as a local resident demanded to be heard after the night's debate had come to an end, the clearly agitated audience member took to the stage to address Gary Coons at one point about a number of issues that seemed out of hearing range and seemed rather confusing to a large portion of the audience in attendance.

The night, organized by the local Chamber of Commerce, was one of the few opportunities for Rupertites to learn more about their candidates, though there wasn't really much in the way of revelations about what they may offer the voting public on May 12th.

The Northern View provided a short synopsis of the evenings deliberations posted to their website shortly after Wednesday nights debate came to an end, a handy showcase of their ability to bring the important news of the community quickly to a public forum for our study.

The Daily News missed its Thursday window of opportunity for details on the debate of Wednesday night, as there was no mention of the political discussion in the Thursday edition.
We imagine they have plans to provide a report in the Friday paper, helpful but certainly not timely considering the access to information on the debate available from such portals as the Northern View website and hackingthemainframe's message boards, which provided a feedback forum for those that attended Wednesday's debate.
Though it seems to be a rather partisan bit of back and forth going on there at the moment.

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