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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

MEL ROTHENBURGER: "What’s so important about topics like the environment and education that they deserve discussion on their own?"

SOME PEOPLE are concerned about the fact B.C. Liberal candidates Peter Milobar (Kamloops North Thompson) and Todd Stone (Kamloops South Thompson) haven’t accepted invitations to attend certain forums. It came up again with respect to last night’s (April 13, 2017) forum at TRU co-sponsored by the TRU Faculty Association, CUPE 3500, CUPE 4879, and Kamloops Thompson Teachers Association.

I’ve commented here a couple of times about the Liberal record on avoiding some of the forums, but I can see their point of view.

There are, actually, several good reasons why candidates should not attend so-called single-issue forums:

  • Single-issue forums get too detailed. You have to do way too much homework on whatever the topic is.
  • It’s too hard to use weasel words at forums, so if you can reduce the number of forums you have to attend, and have a plausible-sounding excuse such as “I’d rather be door-knocking and talking to people on their doorsteps,” it really helps.
  • Single-issue forums draw tough crowds, especially for candidates from the governing party. Why take heat from a room full of people when you could be holding court with a friendly crowd at a coffee party or BBQ?
  • Single-issue forums tend to attract people who know a lot about a particular issue. There’s no fun in arguing with people who know what they’re talking about.
  • You lose control of the message at forums, especially single-issue ones. Way better if the message goes out with as little fear of contradiction as possible. Use your media dollars to full advantage, because the other parties probably don’t have as much in the piggy bank as you do, and you can win that game.
  • You have to think on your feet at forums. Scripted party-line talking points don’t work nearly as well there.
  • If candidates for the governing party don’t show up for a forum, hopefully fewer people will attend, delegitimizing the other candidates who have taken the time to be there. Which, in turn, may diminish the democratic process a little, but that’s just collateral damage.

Anyway, what’s so important about topics like the environment and education that they deserve discussion on their own? You’d think from the way some people talk that the future depends on such things. Get over it.

Besides, exceptions can always be made to the single-issue rule, like when the chamber of commerce asks you to tape a video on business topics for their website.

Generally, though, single-issue forums are best ignored if at all possible.

About Mel Rothenburger (aka The Armchair Mayor)

Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005), and previously served as Chair of the Kamloops School Board and Chamber of Commerce Director. He was elected Director for Electoral Area P in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District in November 2014.

Mel is the recipient of the Queen's Jubilee Medal (2003), the Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship award (2006), the BCYCNA Eric Dunning Integrity Award (2008), the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award — Jack Webster Foundation (2011), the Glacier Media Group President's Club Award (2011), and the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce President's Award (2012).


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