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Prince George forum – the good, the bad, and the surreal

They saved the good stuff until the end.
wblock-logoAfter two hours of fielding scripted questions from the Stand up for the North Committee, which were more statements than questions (some weren’t questions at all), and questions from Conservative plants, the candidates at Wednesday’s all candidates forum got to show their stuff at the end of the night.
They were each allowed to ask one question of another candidate … and they let loose.


Cariboo-Prince George Liberal candidate Tracy Calogheros had the zinger of the night. She asked NDP candidate Trent Derrick what he thought of strategic voting, or more specifically, “where you stand on the requests that are being forwarded to Liberal candidates and Green Party candidates in our riding asking them to step down so you can win the election.”
Derrick said he has not endorsed or requested anyone to step down, but added if people are thinking about voting strategically, that’s their right.
Fair enough, but then, Calogheros wanted to know why Derrick has information on strategic voting on his Facebook page.
To quote the Big Bang Theory … “bazinga.”
Derrick didn’t have much of a response other than people were asking for information on strategic voting, so they provided it. He didn’t mention that has picked the riding as one where strategic voting could make a difference and is urging those who are thinking of doing so, to vote NDP.


The most heated exchange of the night came between Green Party candidate Richard Jaques and Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies candidate Bob Zimmer over comments Zimmer made at an all candidates forum in Dawson Creek.
The subject was missing and murdered indigenous women, and issue near and dear to Jaques, who is First Nation.
Zimmer was quoted as saying: “One of the major drivers of missing and murdered aboriginal women is the lack of economic activity and simply the lack of a job.”
Jaques said the comment is offensive.
For his part, Zimmer said he was referring to an RCMP study that was one of 42 studies into missing and murdered women. The Conservatives have stated that more studies, or more specifically, an inquiry, isn’t needed, but rather action is.
The exchange did get heated at Jaques wasn’t having any of it.
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies Liberal candidates Matt Shaw said he was at the meeting where Zimmer made the original comment and that the comments were blown out of proportion by the media, which drew a fair amount of applause. Shaw said Zimmer was simply trying to point out that poverty is the real issue.


Zimmer opened the forum by apologizing that he didn’t attend the first Stand Up for the North Committee all candidates forum. He said he was in Stewart at the opening of the port there.
He also pointed out that is the only forum he’s missed and none of the candidates have a 100 per cent attendance record at forums. Zimmer said he’s eight-for-nine and he’ll be nine-for-ten after tonight’s forum.
Cariboo-Prince George Conservative candidate Todd Doherty has yet to attend a forum and when it was announced that he would not be attending last night’s forum, there were plenty of boos and jeers from the audience.
Doherty is slated to attend his first forum tonight at UNBC.


There was plenty of talk about how Stephen Harper is moving Canada towards a totalitarian state with plenty of comparisons to regimes throughout history. One Zimmer supporter, not sure if it was his campaign manager but definitely with Zimmer, got up and pointed out that totalitarian regimes always take citizens’ guns first and that hasn’t happened in Canada so, of course, Harper isn’t up to any of the same stuff. (Cue Twilight Zone music please).


Independent candidate Sheldon Clare didn’t let a sore throat slow him down, especially when the debate turned to gun control. He definitely didn’t need the microphone when he referenced the situation in High River, Alberta two years ago where RCMP seized guns from flood-stricken homes.


Don Hawkins, of 250 News, and myself were on the only media types covering the forum. No newspaper, no television, no radio. I supposed they had better things to do, like stay cloistered in their offices trying to figure out why people are getting their news online these days.

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