By Jenn Watt
Published Oct. 15, 2019
Unlike the leaders’ debates, which are so aggressive and partisan that many people avoid them or change the channel in frustration, the local candidates’ meeting last week was a refreshing, smooth-running affair, filled for the most part with talk of big ideas and commonly held concerns.
Aside from one audience member who peppered candidates with quips from the sidelines (and was eventually given a stern talking to by moderator Jim Blake), the evening revealed not only policy differences between the parties, but the individual personalities and competencies of the candidates themselves.
At the end of the night, in his closing remarks, Conservative candidate Jamie Schmale noted that all the people running for election in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock have the same goal in mind – to improve the country we live in – they just have different ways of going about it. While that might sound like a sentimental line easily made by the incumbent, in person it really did feel true.
It was good to see the candidates casually chatting together before the event, leaning over to whisper something between questions or applauding when they agreed with each other. It seemed like worlds away from what we see on TV or read in the papers about the way the country’s leaders talk about each other. It also allowed the audience to listen to the answers rather than become tangled up in personalities.
Following the meeting, I heard several comments from audience members about how impressed they were with the choices they have this election: answers were carefully considered and genuine; that they appreciated when candidates spoke off-the-cuff and from their own personal experiences.
It wasn’t perfect, of course. What should have been a slam-dunk question on climate change garnered too little tangible information from some party representatives, who agreed that the environment matters but weren’t overly specific about the crux of the issue.
The responses about the building code and new construction methods also produced a few vague responses. One got the impression some candidates were trying to run out the clock rather than answer the question.
That said, attendees on Wednesday evening clearly came away with a solid understanding of who was vying to represent them, what they were like and what they stood for. You can read the details in our story this week and if you’d like to watch it yourself, Canoe FM has a recording posted on their Facebook and audio on their website. Plus, the candidates gave thorough written responses to our Q&A on pages 11 through 15.
This election may be a divisive one for the country, but in this riding, we have some truly strong candidates to choose from. There’s still time to get to know them before election day comes along. Make sure that you do.