Tuesday’s all-candidates forum was remarkable in that it will likely be the only local forum with all six Prince George candidates attending.
There is a forum tonight at the Prince George Native Friendship Centre and hopefully all the candidates will make to that one as well.
Picking a winner for the Prince George-Valemount candidate debate is pretty easy. Incumbent Liberal Shirley Bond did much better than New Democrat Natalie Fletcher and Green Nan Kendy.
Of course, after 16 years as an MLA and cabinet minister one would hope that Bond is well-versed in public speaking and has a handle on her party’s platform … which she does. That certainly showed Tuesday.
Fletcher suffered from an affliction that hits many candidates on the campaign trail – a voice that fails … literally. Popping throat lozenges and sipping water didn’t help as the frog in her throat made it difficult for her to make her voice heard.
Kendy relied too much on reading the Green Party platform, even though she tried to engage Bond more than Fletcher did. Kendy strayed off topic several times, likely because that’s where her written notes led her rather than the conversation.
There is no doubt Bond can handle herself in any debate, but I think the two challengers missed an opportunity to press her, as the jobs minister, on why the 220,000 jobs created in past five years are primarily in the Lower Mainland and why all other areas of the province have seen a net loss in jobs.
The Prince George-Mackenzie debate, however, was more of a debate. Many remember the 2013 debate when New Democrat Bobby Deepak and Liberal Mike Morris went toe-to-toe for 15 rounds (to use the sports analogies) in a raucous debate. They’ve each been down this road before.
As has Green Party candidate Hilary Crowley, who has run for the Greens bother federally and provincially.
In other words, there were some seasoned debaters on the floor and they didn’t disappoint. Crowley managed to shush Deepak and Morris when they seemed headed towards a two-person debate and get her points across.
One of the comments that raised a few eyebrows, including mine, was when Morris suggested the Liberals have created 10,000 forestry jobs. The general consensus is that about 30,000 forestry jobs have been lost in this province since the Liberals took power 16 years ago and even if the 10,000 jobs are a bounce-back, then we’re still down 20,000.
It was a very good, spirited debate worth watching. In my mind, there was no clear winner in the Prince George-Mackenzie debate, except the voters.
Debates and all-candidate forums are about getting to see how well the candidates know their stuff, how react under pressure and criticism, and how they carry themselves overall.
On that note, it didn’t disappoint.