Sunday, May 03, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Friday, May 1, 2009

A review of the local candidates forum, remembering the Battle of the Atlantic and the Northern Expedition polishes up the brass for an open house. Some of the items from the Friday edition of the Daily News.

HIRE ME! LOCAL CANDIDATES FORUM-- The Daily News provides its review and interpretation of the Wednesday night candidates forum held at the Lester Centre of the Arts. Items of discussion on Wednesday included; education, employment and the environment to name a few. With George T. Baker providing his take on the evenings revelations (we transcribe the full article below)

Other items of interest from the Friday paper included a preview of the commemoration of the Battle of the Atlantic, the annual gathering of local veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Sea Cadets of Prince Rupert. All were to pause on Sunday to remember the sacrifices of those on the waters of the Atlantic from 1939-1945 in their bid to keep the shipping lines between North America and England open.

Saturday was to be open house day at the Fairview Ferry Terminus for BC Ferries as the province's ferry service celebrated the arrival of the Northern Expedition, the latest addition to the BC Ferries Fleet. Local residents were to tour the vessel from 1-4 and the Daily News previewed that event in Friday's paper.

The paper also featured their regular election feature the Pressing question as well as continuing on with their profile of the riding's candidates, this time featuring Gary Coons on page 10.

The Sports Section featured details of the cross town rivalry between CHSS and PRSS which played out on the soccer field over the last few days.

Total pages in Friday's paper (18)

Front page, Headline story...

Hire Me!
Local candidates forum
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, May 1, 2009
Pages 1 and 5

There are less than two weeks left before election D–Day.

If anything was proved from Wednesday night's all-candidates forum it was that Green Party nominee Lisa Girbav can more than handle her own when the spotlight's on.

During an evening that was filled with loud applause, partisan pandering and reinforcement of the candidates' positions, the biggest mystery going in was whether or not Girbav, at 19, could handle her own against veteran politicians Gary Coons (NDP) and Herb Pond (BC Liberals).

Given the opportunity, Girbav responded with a veteran savvy that left both her competitors and the audience impressed.

When local man Gary Rabel asked Girbav what she thought of all this talk about electing someone who would sit in government so that doors are opened for Prince Rupert, the Green party representative didn't hold back.

"I am tired of choosing between left wing government and right wing government. The environment is somewhere in between. If we don't have a planet, we don't have a government," said Girbav.

On that question, both Coons and Pond responded that they were not concerned about which side of the legislature they sat on.

Coons was direct in his thoughts about the way the make up of a legislature should work,
commenting that in 2001 the BC Liberal government refused to recognize the only two opposition members, Joy MacPhail and Jenny Kwan, as the official opposition.

"I believe we need a strong opposition to counter government," said Coons.

Pond responded by saying that the community was to be represented first.

"I don't much care whether I'm on opposition or government at the time - I will argue with BC Liberals if it's for the good of this riding," said Pond'.

The night didn't come off entirely without a hitch. There were some members of the audience upset at the lottery-style system organized for the public question period. Due to time constraints, names were put in a drum and pulled at random to determine which members of the audience got to speak and there were more questions than there was time to accommodate them.

Those who did have the opportunity came up with some lively and telling questions.

Green Party Campaign manager Gerry Riley asked a question that seemed designed to embarrass rather than seek an answer, when he asked the candidates about, "the social inequities and economic problems caused by 'Herb's Casino"'.

The Green party rep answered that they do not support the proliferation of casinos and gaming centers in the province.

What Riley was getting at was Pond's support for the opening of Chances Gaming Centre, which Pond defended by pointing out that many jobs have been created and that positive results towards gambling addiction would come from working with First Nations communities at the Community-to-Community agreement last October.

"I appreciate the way the question was asked. I get pride from the fact 95 people that are now working. Now, are there a couple of people with problems? Of course. But in the community-to-community meeting we made addiction help a priority," said Pond.

Coon said he was concerned about the social problems associated with gambling in British Columbia.

"We do not have a healthy economy without a healthy society," said Coons.

The night also featured questions from five panelists representing local media and the BC Chamber of Commerce.

One of the panelist questions centered on CN's proposal to bring bitumen oil from Alberta to Prince Rupert on rail cars.

Pond said that he was surprised by the proposal and that there were obvious issues with moving that kind of substance near and on water but the Port of Prince Rupert had been good at handling cargo safely and was certain the same would be for oil.

Girbav took the long view on Albertan oil and reasoned that a more staggered approach to cultivating oil sands projects would be prudent environmentally and economically.

"We should sit on it and wait for it to get more expensive," said Girbav.

Coons said he was totally against oil tankers running up and down the northern coast and said that if the NDP were elected into government, the party would legislate a guaranteed moratorium on crude oil tankers.

"We need to put our energy into protecting our coast," said Coons.

Pond displayed his familiarity with the residents of Prince Rupert, by easily mentioning businesses and owners along with their histories.

Coons was on top of his game with an in depth knowledge of the issues of the day.

And Girbav impressed people by coming up to the plate with unexpected confidence.

Voters will have their opportunity to decide who spoke best when they show up to the polls on May 12.

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