Chamber of Commerce All Candidate 'Debate' lackluster & lame

Chamber of Commerce All Candidate 'Debate' lackluster & lame

QC Sentinel Editorial

By Arthur Topham

'Lackluster', 'old hat', 'par for the course' and 'lame' are terms that come to mind when I think about the recent all candidates meeting at Correlieu Senior Secondary hosted by the Quesnel & District Chamber of Commerce.

There are likely various reasons why I got this impression but more specifically I think it had something to do with the fact that the event, in terms of public's awareness of it, was severely lacking and in that regard I would have to point a finger at Quesnel's own home town newspaper the Quesnel Cariboo Observer for not having advertised it sufficiently (or even at all). If the chamber advertised it they must have done so via the local radio or via cable tv as I didn't see any announcement from them either of them in the Observer (I double checked the last two editions leading up to the October 27th gathering and not a single word was found). On top of this Quesnel's local tv network, Shaw, was unavailable to film the event. It begs the question as to who organized it on a date where the visual media would be unable to cover it. Fortunately some of the candidates, in particular Ron Paull's team, were able to video the proceedings and will likely be furnishing Shaw with footage soon.



The second reason I found the event somewhat onerous ( a fancy word for 'tedious' or  'boring'), and this is likely the more realistic of the two, was the manner in which the meeting was conducted. Talk about amateurish and dysfunctional. After the introductory remarks by all the candidates present (3 min. for mayoral ones and 2 min. for councillors) came a short break followed by what should have been the contentious and spirited portion of the night – questions to the candidates. My fellow media reporter at the event had remarked, "now the sparks will begin to fly".

Here again the whole thing fell flat thanks to the format. Rather than allowing voters to come up to a microphone and ask either a single candidate or all of them or each of the two categories of candidates a question voters were instructed to write down their question and submitted it to a third party for selection. After the question was deciphered (and in some instances this took an embarrassing long time to achieve) it was then read out to the candidate(s) who all, in lock step, were expected to respond in turn. Again, how many of the audience were aware that this was going to be the procedure is not known. From the results I would suspect that most weren't aware of the process for there was very little in the way of questions and the result of this was that basically the same old questions were repeated ad nauseum again and again, i.e. what will you do if elected to bring greater prosperity and security, new industry and jobs to the city and what are your thoughts on the multi-center and the land slippage question in West Quesnel and how will the city maintain its ever-decaying infrastructure over the next 3 years. It seemed as though the whole of the question period revolved around this basic theme.

Nothing resembling an actual debate or the old time Town Hall meetings happened. In my estimation it would have been much more practical to just have given each mayoral candidate and each councillor candidate say 10 minutes to present their perspectives on the issues they felt were of importance and left it at that. The audience who did make it out to listen (approximately 125 people from my count) would likely have learned more about the personality and the agenda of the person that way.

That said there were a few instances of humour and passion and this should not be overlooked but all in all there appears to be a great need for some new and more innovative ways in which to run such events so that the voting public can get to see the candidates in action. One possibility would be to have them all seated around a large round table and each furnished with a microphone so that they could actually engage in real debate.





The bleachers were close to full but the numbers, relative to the voting population of Quesnel and area, were abysmally low given that it was the first opportunity for voters and taxpayers to get a good look and listen from those who will be representing them over the next 3 years on city council.

The next scheduled performance is expected to happen on November 3rd when a mayoral debate is due to happen. Where and how is something I will be trying to ascertain. Hopefully the Observer will be on top of this time and the people will be informed.