Bob Jonkman's thoughts on politics

All Candidates Meetings in Kitchener-Conestoga

Posted by Bob Jonkman on 27th April 2011

I’ve attended both of the All Candidates Meetings in my riding, Kitchener-Conestoga.

The first in St. Agatha was run by the Rogers local cable broadcast and local paper The Record. After some introductory remarks from the candidates, questions were taken from the audience, and about 15 people lined up. Sadly, answers were limited to short sound bites, so I don’t think anyone got an answer with any substance. Some of the questions were longer than the answers. After about 45 minutes the Q&A session was stopped, and the candidates made some closing remarks. Only 8 people present got to ask questions, along with one question from an online viewer. I was not one of them. There were no questions on proportional representation or electoral reform, but I was pleased to hear several questions on the environment.

The second ACM in Elmira was run by radio station AM570 and the KW Chamber of Commerce. This time the questions were all asked by the host from the radio station, and the candidates were again limited to 60 second sound bites. The questions mostly dealt with economic issues, national debt, infrastructure development, and one question on national health care. There were no questions on proportional representation or electoral reform. With a few minutes remaining at the end of the allotted 90 minutes the host asked for questions from the audience. Sadly, I was not close enough to get picked. As it turned out, the question was from a Conservative supporter asking the Liberal candidate about the ethics of the recent attack ad against Stephen Harper, which turned into a vindictive sniping match from all parties.

Neither ACM seemed to be held for the purposes of informing candidates about voters’ concerns, or informing voters about candidate’s views on issues. Instead, they were both “media events”, tightly scripted and controlled for the purpose of filling some air time and column inches. I also attended another AM570 ACM for Kitchener-Centre – oddly, the questions were the same as in Elmira, and the answers were much the same as well.

I learned nothing from either ACM that I couldn’t have learned by reading the party’s platform statements or campaign literature. Except maybe that the whole election process is dominated by media and business.

I’ve heard a rumour of a third ACM for Kitcherner-Conestoga, to be held in New Hamburg (a third location inaccessible to public transit). In spite of my experiences at the first two ACMs, I’ll be attending this one too.

Why are there so few All Candidate Meetings in my riding? Kitchener-Waterloo and Kitchener-Centre seem to have an ACM event every day of the week, and sometimes more than one. Anita had the great idea of Fair Vote Waterloo hosting an ACM with the sole topic being electoral reform. I hope we can do that for the October 2011 elections!

Oh, and don’t forget about the joint FairVoteWRC and CAPP event on Thursday, 28 April, 7:00pm in the Adult Community Centre at 185 King St. S., Waterloo. John Deverell and Nick van der Graaf will be speaking!


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