Byelection forum gave voters a lot to think about
0425 - After political debates supporters of each candidate are always convinced theirs won it hands down. That may very well be the popular feeling among supporters after Thursday night's Chamber of Commerce forum at Beban Park.
Those who don’t have a pony in the race can sometimes give a more distant view, but not always, there are no guarantees. Never bet all your marbles based on people who consider themselves “experts”.
For instance, veteran politician Brian Peckford, who writes regularly for Nanaimonet, has his own way of sorting the wheat from the chaff. The fact that the general response on the night was so balanced makes it a lot more challenging to grade the candidates’performances.
Brian and I saw things a little differently, and part of that can be attributed to the fact that I saw all the questions before they were posed to the candidates. I also tend to be biased toward the candidates who have at least a slim chance of winning.
To be frank, there are only four candidates who have any chance of winning this seat. In alphabetical order.
Bob Chamberlin, NDP – He was right to the point, having a clear message. It’s not a case of agreeing with his politics, but rather a question of how he impressed the audience. He definitely exhibited an extensive political track record in handling issues. He's been there, done that.
Jennifer Clarke, the People’s Party of Canada – When you’re not in real contention it’s a lot easier. She didn’t make friends when she referred to all old established parties as corrupt, and her party as the only one with integrity. A bit of a loose cannon – talking about a time of crisis, foreign-funded political parties, decline of freedom of speech, treatment of veterans and protection for the pre-born.
Michelle Corfield, Liberal Party – She has the political smarts and an impressive track record and can parry with the best of them. No topic caused her to stumble, she knows her stuff. Her biggest challenge is the anchor she’s dragging with the dislike in this riding for her party’s leader.
John Hirst, Conservative Party – A refreshing new face, the rookie in the bunch made a solid impression with his first foray into politics. He’s knowledgeable about the issues and exhibited a sincere devotion to his community. And not being afraid to call it as he sees it, he took a swipe at what he called ineffective members of Parliament we’ve had over a period of years.
Paul Manly, Green Party – Handled himself well with the questions, diverting issues toward his party’s political philosophy. He had a couple of instances of answers with the facts be damned, this is where he and his party is heading, not buying into observed negative aspects of the agenda.
Brian Marlatt, Progressive Canadian Party – He tried to establish himself and his party as the real Progressive Conservatives of old, using the acronym “PC Party”. Highly educated and intelligent, it appeared there was a bridge too far to communicate with this particular audience.
All in all, the best “political” performance came from Chamberlin. Hirst demonstrated he can handle the game and would develop into a good member of Parliament. Manly has to depend on enough people buying into what he’s selling, and right now buyer resistence appears low. Corfield would be a good member of Parliament, but a road too long at this time.
Clarke and Marlatt – the latest opinion poll we rely on here has the two lumped together as “other” and they are garnering about one per cent at present.
A lot can happen between now and May 6, and you can bet there will be a lot of door bells rung in the meantime.
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