All candidate forums are one of those rare times when we get an opportunity to listen to local candidates without a lot of the background noise of national-party-speak, talking-heads and the kind of bickering and personal attacks that are so familiar to the national leadership scene.
Tuesday’s (Oct. 8) forum in Port McNeill was the opposite of much of what we witness on the national news. The candidates, who are in the home stretch of a gruelling process, live and work in our communities and are the local face to what is otherwise an often distant and distrusted land.
It can be a difficult task translating and relating policy to local issues. The sometimes detached and unaffected world of Ottawa doesn’t get to experience the real world issues of job loss, poverty or the hardship and dangers of not having a reliable communications infrastructure. Those kinds of questions came up at the forum as did concern over our resource-reliant industries. And intertwined within all of those were questions and concerns about the health and future of our planet and by association, our health and future well-being.
Candidates refrained from talking over each other and while at times they would argue points, clarify positions or stress the importance of their approach to a problem, it was done without bitterness or contempt for the others. It was small-town politics, often with local anecdotal evidence backing up a point that people could then relate and put a face to.
At times, questions from the audience strayed into the arena of speeches instead of questions and the moderator would have to cajole and push for the actual question. Yet everyone seemed to smile, nod and accept that sometimes frustration can lead to an overwhelming need to vent. But that is what is so good and so important about politics at the community level. It gives people that opportunity to shake their fist at Ottawa and then decide who they want to send back there to represent them.
Our system may not be perfect and the outcomes may not always be to our liking but the forum proved that once again the system works when we have dedicated individuals, capable and willing to do their best, to stand up for us and to make this crazy Canadian democracy of ours work. Personally I’d like to thank all those candidates for putting their name forward. As an opinion writer, I am often the first to criticize and point out their flaws. However, I also know how the election process can be a tough, exhausting and sometimes brutal undertaking and I do admire those who take the time to move from complaining about things to trying to make things better. These are the people who walk the talk, the doers and solvers who will end up helping us when we have a problem.
You can show your appreciation and respect for their willingness to step up to the plate by casting your vote for one of them this Oct. 21.
Bill McQuarrie is a former publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org