Federal candidates will meet in Parksville for first public forum on Sunday, International Women’s Day

Conservative candidate John Duncan, the government whip, will not be in attendance

Local residents will get their first opportunity to see and hear from the people who want to represent them in the House of Commons through an International Women’s Day-inspired forum Sunday in Parksville.

Organized by the Parksville Qualicum branch of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), the forum will feature three candidates for the new riding of Courtenay-Alberni, but not Conservative John Duncan.

Gord Johns (NDP), Carrie Powell-Davidson (Liberal) and Glenn Sollitt (Green) have confirmed their attendance, said local CFUW president Perry Perry.

“They will be asked to define the issues they think women and girls in our riding face,” said Perry. “And then they will be asked what investments should be made to address these issues.”

The forum will be moderated by Mary Ellen Campbell. Qualicum First Nation Chief Michael Recalma will provide introductions and there will be an opportunity for questions from the floor, said Perry.

The forum starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8 — International Women’s Day — at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre.

Duncan’s campaign manager Dick Clancy confirmed Duncan, the government whip, will not attend. Perry said Duncan is welcome to participate in the forum if his schedule changes.

The local branch of the CFUW has 75 members, said Perry, who also identified some issues affecting local women.

“Women (here) face tremendous challenges in their lives as parents finding affordable child care,” said Perry. “And Canada is not a leader in putting women in Parliament.”