EDITORIAL: Release the chains

First forum of Parksville Qualicum Beach election season lacked personality

One can only hope they will be more inspirational on Friday afternoon at The Gardens.

The first all-candidates forum of the silly, er, election season was last week in Qualicum Beach and we can’t believe anyone left the room excited about the leadership potential or passion of the three people who want to be this region’s next MLA.

We should all cut them some slack, we suppose. This is the first time Barry Avis (NDP), David Coupland (Conservatives) and Michelle Stilwell (Liberals) were together in front of a crowd, espousing the virtues and policies they believe will propel voters to mark an ‘X’ beside their name May 14.

Thing is, the scripts they used — clearly provided by party headquarters — were dry and full of numbers and policy statements we all can get online.

This, quite frankly, flies in the face of the strengths of these three candidates. We are fortunate in Parksville Qualicum Beach to have three individuals running for MLA who are bright, engaging and clearly have much to give.

They ooze personality, have excellent experiences to share and voters need to get a feel for the person who will represent this area in Victoria, Canada and the world.

The stifling of Stilwell is particularly baffling. Here’s an internationally-recognized athlete who is no stranger to the glare of the media and has oodles of experience speaking to large crowds.

Why in the world would the B.C. Liberals court her if all they wanted was someone to defend their record by reading numbers from the same script some candidate is also sharing at a forum in Trail or Prince George?

Was there a winner Thursday night at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre? Well, it certainly wasn’t the voters, who learned nothing about the people who want to be their representative.

And that forum did nothing to reduce cynicism about the party system.

Hey, campaign managers: release the chains. We are feeling cheated by the party discipline you are imposing on these three good people.

We want to know more about these candidates and we want to see them think on their feet and share their vast experiences.

— Editorial by John Harding