Last week I got to cover the Souris-Moose Mountain all-candidates forum at the legion.
I am not sure if I would be there, if not for work. Not that I don't care for politics, rather the opposite. But as a recent newcomer, I'm still not fully established in Canada, and I simply can't vote yet here. So for me, someone who has been voting ever since I turned 18, watching political campaigns is like going to a travel company to look at tours to go somewhere, but not being able to affect the destination, or type of transportation, or potential quality of my life over the course of that trip.
Nevertheless, I got to go to what appeared to be my first Canadian political debate, which was actually a forum, but nonetheless an interesting experience. I was there as an observer, trying to catch some details and getting a better understanding of the Canadian political platforms.
The forum saw Conservative Robert Kitchen, Maverick Greg Douglas and People’s Party Diane Neufeld answering questions that matter the most to the riding.
The point I marked right off the start was that I actually ran into three candidates present at the forum all within one week in Estevan. Kitchen partook in the SMILE Service Rodeo parade; while not on the political agenda, Douglass came to Estevan on behalf of his business to announce the support for the new urban dog park; and Neufeld made an appearance at the third annual Patriots rally. These are all very different events, and I'm not trying to compare. The point is that I, as anyone else, could actually meet people in the community who put their names forward for the Souris-Moose Mountain constituency.
You know how our editor Dave Willberg always pushes for candidates in all kinds of elections to be present, to do their job, and even if they are representing the local political minorities, to put an effort into campaigning rather than being ghosts, or parachute candidates? Right away I could tell that they are actually trying.
At the start of the forum, keeping in mind huge support for the Conservatives we witnessed two years ago, I felt like the Maverick and PPC candidates deserved a round of applause just for showing up and ensuring that Canadian democracy is indeed one.
But I guess things may change drastically, and they did before. If judged by the applause Douglas drew a few times throughout the night, I thought that the 2019 absolute local leader may end up needing to put additional effort in this time to secure his seat in Parliament for the next few years.
In general, the forum experience was indeed interesting.
When catering to the southeast corner of Saskatchewan, different party candidates had similar approaches on some issues. For example, none of them said that equalization the way it is, is a good thing. None of them supported vaccination passports. All of them paid respect to carbon capture technology and/or other potential innovations that would allow the region to continue its course being energy-oriented. None of them praised the carbon tax, and on the contrary, all said that their parties would get rid of it.
It was interesting to watch the Conservative candidate promote their plans and promises out of the existing reality created by the Liberal government, while the Maverick used the examples set, stating that what Conservatives do is "not enough," and pointing out that they won't work out for Western Canada. What I got from the People’s Party of Canada candidate was mainly "no mandates." She did speak about other issues as well, but this refrain stood out the most in what to me didn't look like a very convincing presentation of ideas on how to operate the country in the midst of economic crisis and pandemic, with many other local and global issues on the agenda for the next few years. But I think lack of realism is a common problem for PPC.
Altogether, the forum provided many good insights and gave me a better idea not only about the political platforms but also about people who are trying to represent this corner of the country in Parliament. I always thought that details matter as much as bigger parts. The forum did shine the light on some details.
The hour and a half forum didn't cover it all and didn't give all the answers. But these days, there is no lack of information. So check our recap of the forum, look up the platforms, candidates' bios, leaders' promises and achievements, potentials for each party, etc.
Do your research, and then, please, use your right and vote. Because you can, and because it matters.