As the marathon federal election campaign period races on across Kootenay-Columbia, the riding’s candidates are working to make their policy points and commitments clear.
Liberal candidate Don Johnston recently put himself squarely in the debate about debates, previously waged in the riding primarily by NDP candidate Wayne Stetski and Conservative incumbent candidate David Wilks.
“Our communities share goals and principals and understand that a fair government recognizes the needs of all constituents,” Johnston said in a press release. “That is why we are working hard to ensure most communities can host a debate. We won’t be putting roadblocks in the way for political gain.”
A member of Johnston’s team has been working on a committee with representatives from the Green Party and the NDP to co-ordinate debates across the riding.
Recently, Wilks announced he would only be participating in debates hosted and organized by Chambers of Commerce, which Johnston said is unfair to other non-partisan organizations.
“So far, the Conservatives have avoided efforts to communicate or reach consensus, but we are confident that each community will have the opportunity to learn more about (the Liberal) candidate,” Johnston said.
Using ammunition from a different sort of debate, Johnston also took a shot at the Conservative Party in his statement.
“I was really pleased with the leaders debate,” Johnston said. “It allowed Justin Trudeau to dispel many of the impressions being painted by simplistic Conservative ads. Voters are grown-ups. They deserve better and the debate provided that.”
The ad Johnston primarily referred to is called The Interview, which features the famous line: “He’s just not ready.” It has received over 420,000 views on YouTube.
“We expect the Conservatives will continue to run negative ads regardless of who is leading the latest poll, so we are pleased that, after seeing Justin Trudeau discuss real change, people are beginning to see why they feel they need to spend their money that way,” Johnston said. “Liberal policy and the Liberal team are the real threat to (the Conservatives) keeping their jobs.”
For Johnston, that policy can be defined in three succinct categories: fairness, change, and environment and economics.
“Kootenay voters know that governments cannot separate sound environmental policy from sound economic policy,” Johnston said.
On the topic of fairness, Johnston said the 11-week campaign period is unfair to taxpayers across the country. The extended period will cost taxpayers over $125 million extra to support Elections Canada’s activities.
“It is a real testament to a team that excels at politics, but fails at managing an economy,” Johnston said about the Conservative Party’s push for the long campaign period. “This riding can do better.”
The debate schedule is becoming clearer. The first confirmed all-candidate forum titled “Peace, Security and Climate Change” is in Nelson on September 16th. Since it is hosted by the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College, Wilks will not be in attendance.
In Invermere, a proposal has been launched by the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce, but a final confirmation from the candidates has not yet been received.
Editor’s note: The Echo did not receive any press releases from Wilks’ team this week.