Election debate – here in Aylmer
Aylmer’s all-candidate public debate is set for September 16 at the Cinema Aylmer in the Galeries, sponsored by our three newspapers, the Bulletin, West Quebec Post, and the Pontiac Journal.
Since the riding boundaries have been changed to move part of Aylmer, north of Blvd. Allumettieres, into the Pontiac out of Aylmer-Hull, the debate will include candidates from all parties in both Pontiac and Aylmer-Hull ridings. Questions and debate topics will be in both languages.
While many of us – and Big Media -- did watch the first national debate, it will be in these local public meetings that the issues which clearly affect our daily lives will be aired, compared, and dissected. Local issues will give us, the public, the opportunity to size up each candidate, as fitting, or not, to represent our area and our diverse population.
It will be important not only to focus on local questions, but also to tease out each candidate’s personal view on these subjects, rather than listen to a rehash of the national party’s policies . . . let’s hear from the persons who hope to actually represent us, not who think only of representing their party and national leader.
In this vein, it will be of paramount importance to have every major candidate participate. Although they have informally agreed to attend, it could happen that so-and-so will not attend. How arrogant! We want to hear from our potential MPs, not get a statement from their party’s head office! We want to ask our potential MP questions about personal views, personal principles, and their personal commitments to us and our ridings. How can we do this if any duck out?
Some candidates – elsewhere – have said they prefer face-to-face campaigning. This is a lame excuse for avoiding what is the MP’s primary responsibility: to champion our issues and problems. How can we tell if candidates are capable of holding their own in the pressure cooker of Parliament, if they hide from us today? This is one of the longest campaigns ever, so there’s plenty of time for face-to-face; one night of debate hardly cuts into knocking-on-doors time.
I propose that any cowardly candidate who backs out should get an empty chair with a name card, so we all know who is and isn’t working for us.
We want to see if they can hold their own in debate with other MPs and other parties. Will we get a pit-bull, often ugly, a John Baird for example, or a no-show, or an MP who obediently votes the party line? How can we decide unless we see the candidates show their assertiveness? Our ridings have serious problems and we need to know that they will be brought to the House and that our representative will be militating on our behalf.
Such debates are part of a genuine election. Will all the candidates attend? That’s important, but even more important: will you attend?