Quesnel Municipal Elections 2014: All Candidates Forum at Royal Canadian Legion October 28 by Arthur Topham


Arthur Topham

Editor & Publisher,


QUESNEL, B.C.:- The 2014 Quesnel Municipal Elections got off to a great start this year with the first All Candidates Public Forum held at the Royal Canadian Legion on Tuesday evening, October 28th.

By 7 p.m. the hall was full to capacity and commencing with a few brief introductory remarks from Quesnel District Chamber of Commerce President Graham Armstrong the business of moderating the evening's performance was turned over to Simon Turner of the Quesnel Rotary Club.

Simon, as per usual at Legion events, called upon the audience to rise up on their feet and then initiated a few moments of silent meditation and prayer followed by a rousing chorus of "Oh Canada". Then he proceeded to enlighten the audience on the organizational format that was to be followed throughout the evening.

Keeping with recent precedents set over the past few years the public attending the forum were told that if they had questions for the candidates that they would have to submit them via writing. The questions would then be picked out of whatever candidate's box they were placed in and hopefully they would get an answer to their query.

Just how truly fair such a process is remains controversial as it basically nullifies a longstanding tradition in Western democracies wherein citizens who've taken the time to attend a forum find themselves no longer able to exercise their freedom to walk up to an open microphone and direct their concerns to whomever of the candidates that they wish to get a reply from. It also, unfortunately, opens the door for potentially partisan decisions on the part of those choosing the questions thus creating the possibility of adversely affecting the resulting dialogue.

Simon then explained to the audience how the little Christmas lights – green, yellow and red – (inserted into a small black wooden box and set up on a table in front of the long row of hopeful candidates) would light up and be used to signal the speakers so they didn't go over their allotted 3 minute time period for either presenting their views and platform or their reply to whatever question that might be asked of them. If, for whatever reason, they were to get too immersed in their  own oratory and failed to follow the sequence of coloured prompters then the person holding the stop watch would ring a warning bell and cut short any further excess of verbiage on the part of the would-be politician.

The audience, having understood how the game was to be played, were thus prepared and Simon called upon the two mayoral candidates to come up and present their opening remarks. The order of speaking was to be alphabetical and so Bob Simpson, the new challenger for the position of Mayor of Quesnel, was the first person up to the podium.

Simpson  gave a dynamic, positive and forward-looking speech to the audience outlining his reasons for why he felt he would be the best person to lead a council and the city over the next four year civic mandate. Bringing a love of the area and a wealth of ideas gained over his previous years of experience as Cariboo North's MLA, first as a Cabinet Minister for the NDP government and then as a sitting Independent, Simpson was able to confidently announce to the listening audience clearly reasoned perspectives and proactively viable solutions to the current issues relating to Quesnel's infrastructure and governance as well as outlining some of the more serious pending challenges facing the city due to the provinces changing economic landscape.

Quesnel's Queen of Expenses increases city tax burden

Dear Editor,
Wow! the ink on the ballots hadn't even dried and Mayor Mary and her band of yes people have increased the tax burden on us already. Yes, even you who voted for the Queen of Expenses will now pay more for a half time councillor and two who are leaving so it doesn't bother them one way or another.
You cannot beat a dyed-in-the-wool politician eh? Get it done before the new guys come in. Smooth.
It's a good thing that Sushil Thapar is still there but we as taxpayers better start attending council meetings and express our views so those elected know they can't just do as they please.
Municipal spending is increasing across the province but this doesn't mean we have to keep up with everyone else.
ICBC, BC Hydro, Natural Gas, and now our city leaders need more money!
Let's hope this money comes from those businesses and companies that supported our underpaid Mayor.
So once again those on a fixed income must tighten their belts and hope they do not have to go without heat and light in order to eat.
Thanks for not disappointing those of us who knew we would get more of the same from those re-elected (excluding, of course, our financial watch dog Mr. Thapar).
This is just the beginning folks so hang on to your hats (and your wallets!).
Ron Campbell
Quesnel, B.C.
(an over burdened taxpayer)

Editorial: What Kind of City Do You Want?

Editorial: What Kind of City Do You Want?



Arthur Topham
QC Sentinel

November 18, 2011

Well, basically, it's all over except for the crying, the laughter, the joy and the disappointment that inevitably result whenever the citizens have the opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote for those who will, afterwards, rule the roost so to speak.

It's been for many, if not all the candidates in this municipal race, a grueling and demanding marathon where their time and their energy has been maxed out to the limits of endurance.

As one of the contestants for council, Mitchell Vik, so aptly put it last evening when I caught him racing out of his K-MAX video store to attend yet another evening event, "There's no rest for wicked you know...."

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.


Letter to Editor: Ken vs Fran over Quesnel Gate issue

October 23, 2011

Dear Editor:                                                                                      
In reference to the opinion expressed by Fran MacPherson in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer dated October 14, 2011 bylined “Team Mentality Needed.” I agree with the byline heading, but respectfully disagree with some statements in her letter.


Politicians feeding greedily at public trough by Jon Ferry

Politicians feeding greedily at public trough

by Jon Ferry

September 28, 2011

The Province

Mayors and councillors from across the province seem to be having a grand old time in Vancouver this week for their annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. It's undoubtedly good for the downtown hotel and beverage trade.

But, given the worrying economy, I think they should have stayed home this year and held their meetings by teleconference, saving a ton of taxpayers' money.

Troubles at the Trough: Quesnel Councillor Paull asks some tough questions of Mayor Sjostrom's spending habits

Troubles at the Trough: Quesnel Councillor Paull asks some tough questions of Mayor Sjostrom's spending habits




For some time, I have resisted growing public pressure to weigh in on the thorny issue of the mayor’s expenses, but the city auditor’s letter was the proverbial straw that has raised more questions than answers. Was the auditor instructed to adjudicate only the paper trail and not the eligibility and propriety of some of the mayor’s expenses? Why didn’t his opinion go beyond simply saying that all the paperwork is in order? Why, in spite of saying in his letter that he conducted a “review of the overall purpose of the supporting documentation” did he not say (or at least politely hint) that some of those expenses were clearly not eligible to have been claimed?  Is he not aware that certain of those expenses are not eligible for reimbursement because under the Canada Income Tax Act, all local government elected officials receive a large portion (in our case it is one third) of their pay as an expense allowance. The City’s Council Indemnity Bylaw No. 1385 of 1997 says, in part “….provide for the payment of an annual indemnity to the Mayor and councillors of the City …., a part of which may be an allowance for expenses incidental to their duties”. In the body of the bylaw, Section 3  states “One-third of such annual indemnity amounts paid to each member of Council shall be paid as an allowance for expenses incidental to the discharge of his or her office.”  That language is repeated in the Council Policy for Council Remuneration.

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