David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) students got a chance to see and hear Kootenay-Columbia federal election candidates in person during a students’ forum held in the DTSS theatre last week.
The forum, held on the afternoon of Monday, September 28th, was similar in format to the general all-candidates forum held in same theatre later that evening, but the school forum was moderated by students, and students generated their own questions posed to the candidates.
All four candidates — Conservative incumbent David Wilks, Green candidate Bill Green, NDP candidate Wayne Stetski and Liberal candidate Don Johnston — attended the event and fielded questions on the economy and taxes, the environment, Syrian refugees, health care, euthanasia, legalizing marijuana, gun control, and data security as well as a question from the audience about what they plan to do to engage young voters.
“We believe the forum went very well. All the students in attendance seemed quite attentive and engaged in what all the candidates had to say. Each candidate was well-spoken and gave great, insightful answers,” said student co-moderator Emily Danyluk, who was also speaking on behalf of fellow student co-moderators Christine Constable and Kaitlyn Raven.
Although virtually all of the roughly 70 students who came to the forum will not be old enough to vote in the October 19th election, the student moderator still felt the event was worthwhile.
“It is important for students to pay attention to this election even if they’re too young to vote because soon enough they will be at the age where they are able to vote and it’s important that they do. The more they know about elections that have happened, the better they will be able to choose which candidate they want to represent them,” said Emily. “Also, by paying attention to the election, they can find their own opinions about how they believe their country should be run and what aspects of government they believe are the most
The students say they chose to be moderators because they felt, by asking the candidates the questions and being more actively involved in the forum, they would gain a deeper understanding of each political party’s’ platform.
“This forum helped shape our views and opinions on the candidates and on the election in general because it gave us a better understanding about who may be running our country and a more in-depth look at each party’s’ beliefs and what their main objectives are in governing Canada,” said Emily, adding that one of the moderators (although she didn’t say exactly who) went into the forum believing strongly in a certain party, but came out of the forum believing strongly in another party.
The moderators did say they felt both Stetski and Wilks spoke well, although they added they felt Wilks seemed defensive at times, while Stetski seemed to have strong, developed thoughts on each topic.