All Candidates Meeting 17 June (Burnaby--New Westminster)

For this election, we only got one all-candidates meeting. Unfortunately, only 5 of the 6 candidates were supposed to be there (Dana Green of the Canadian Heritage Party was not listed) and only 4 of them actually showed up (I didn't catch the reason for Revel Kunz of the Green party not being there).

I arrived while they were still setting up. It soon became clear that the number of chairs that were set out was not going to suffice and people started setting more chairs up. In the end there were about three times as many rows of chairs as were initially set up. I estimated around 150 people attended.

The format was as follows :
# Three minute speeches by each candidate.
# 10 questions from the organisers directed at some subset of the candidates.
# Questions form the audience, alternating between ones on paper read by the moderator and ones from the microphone.

The moderator went on for way too long at the start - we weren't there to hear him speak ! The meeting ended up running over time and he had to reduce the time available for candidates to respond. It did seem that everyone who had a question was able to ask it.

There were several people handing out literature of various types. I put copies of the petition on the table by the entrance. No idea whether anyone took one.

During the first two parts of the meeting, I noted that Mary Pynenburg (Liberal) mentioed that she "celebrates cultural diversity". NAFTA came under lots of criticism, particularly chapter 11 under which corporations can sue governments for lost profits. There was also a comment from Mary Pynenburg about not wanting to "renege on international commitments".

I put my question in on paper and it was the first read. I was disappointed by the response. Mike Redmond (Conservative) said that the Copyright Act does need updating, it's a complex matter and that he feels that it's inappropriate for candidates or MPs to sign petitions (which is odd given that Parliaments guidelines specifically mention signatures by MPs on petitions).
Mary Pynenburg said that she agreed with Mike Redmond and that was about it.
Peter Julian (NDP) talked about the balance between entrepreneurs/artists and the public (I'm not sure what entrepreneurs have to do with copyright. Maybe he was confusing copyright and patents). He also mentioned the importance of access for educational institutions.
Peter Horvath (Communist) said that he didn't know enough about the issue to comment, which seemed true of all the candidates !

This was my first time seeing any of the candidates in person. Overall, Mike Redmond seemed a little impersonal. Where the other candidates mentioned parts of their experience that were relevant to particular issues, he didn't do this nearly as much.
Mary Pynenburg was the worst public speaker of the four. She read her notes more and had more "um"s and "er"s. She definitely gave the impression that a vote for her was a vote for the Liberal party rather than for her as a person.
Peter Julian came across as very passionate. He spent a lot of time attacking the other parties (he seemed to have a list of points to make about the other parties that he was using).

A few comments from the rest of the questions that stood out :

There was a question about whether they would resign if they broke a promise made during the campaign. Mary Pynenburg was the only one to say "no", which she justified by the cost of having an election.

There was a question about free votes and Mary Pynenburg answered in a way that implied that she was opposed to free votes. I didn't quite get her reasoning.

Mary Pynenburg mentioned a concern about media concentration.

Mike Redmond mentioned that the Conservatives would start electing members of the Senate as soon as possible.

There were several questions about the CBC and Canadian culture. I wonder whether this might be a way to bring our issues to the attention of the general public.

The last question, to Mary Pynenburg, concerned her use of her email address at City Hall to raise funds for her campaign (this was in the local papers a few weeks ago). She was asked whether she would apologise for that and resign her position at City Hall. She got quite upset by this, calling it "an attack on her integrity" and said that it was "untrue" and that she had "nothing to apologise for". Looking at the person who asked the question, this seemed like the wrong tack to take (for him at least). I got the impression that if she'd said that she'd made a mistake in her early enthusiasm, apologised and said that it really didn't seem like a serious enough issue to resign over, she probably would have got his vote. He didn't seem impressed with the answer he got, though.