CBC’s Chris Walker (far right) hosted the first Kelowna federal election forum at the Mary Irwin Theatre in Kelowna on Saturday, Sept. 7. In attendance were (left to right) Brynn Jones and Darrin Fiddler of the Marijuana Party; Robert Mellailieu of the Green Party; Stephen Fuhr and Mary Ann Murphy of the Liberal Party; Dan Albas and Tracy Gray (not pictured) of the Conservative Party; Joan Phillip and Justin Kulik of the NDP; and John Barr and Allan Duncan of the People’s Party of Canada. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)

Candidates showcase character at first federal election forum in Kelowna

Candidates new and old showed Kelowna what they’re about at the Mary Irwin Theatre last weekend

The writ is yet to drop but parliamentary candidates are already thinking about the upcoming election.

And, so is the electorate.

In front of around 150 people at the Mary Irwin Theatre on Saturday night, 11 of 12 MP hopefuls from both the Kelowna-Lake Country and Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola ridings faced voters for the first time this election season.

The forum saw CBC’s Chris Walker throw several complicated issues to the candidates, with only two minutes to answer the night’s main topics and one minute for audience questions. Topics such as pharmacare, income security, national housing and seniors’ care, were covered.

Through their answers, those accustomed to the hot-seat and those fresh to federal politics showcased personalities and policies.

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John Barr, the People’s Party of Canada candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country, answered a question about how his party would get pipelines built, something that has been lauded by party leader Maxime Bernier. His answer elicited scattered laughs throughout the audience.

“What will I do?” said Barr, who spent much of the night leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed. “Gee, I don’t know how to answer that question.”

He continued, “I’ll answer it as best I can. I understand that Bernier has means in which to enforce, based on the economic means of the country, that these pipelines get built. That’s my answer.”

Walker prodded him for a more specific answer as to what those means would be, to which Barr responded: “I don’t know what those means are.”

Others also garnered laughs, although through more intentional methods.

When asked about why he wanted to be MP, Robert Mellalieu, Green Party candidate for the Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding, explained he understands it’s a tough job, citing the amount of the time he’s seen incumbent Conservative MP Dan Albas spend away from home.

“… And besides, my wife says I should go as often as I can,” Mellalieu said, extracting chuckle from the crowd.

He also ended every question with a variable one-liner that drew more giggles as the evening went on.

“Vote Green, vote smart, vote for Rob.”

NDP candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country, Justin Kulik, drew his praise more in applause than in laughter.

He opened the night by stating he is the youngest federal candidate in Canadian history at just 18-years-old.

His age, however, did not hold him back from taking jabs at the more experienced politicians at the table with him.

When answering a question about how his party would finance universal pharmacare he turned the ire towards the Liberal Party.

“They say they’ve supported universal pharmacare since 1993,” Kulik said. “They spent many of those years in government, and many of those in a majority government. The question is: why haven’t you gotten it done? The answer is: because it’s a carrot they’re dangling in front of you for elections that they’re going to pull away on Oct. 22.”

Kulik was also asked whether or not he supported detox for addicts before housing. His answer prompted raucous applause from the audience.

“I support taking the scientific approach to do whatever makes the most sense,” Kulik said.

“Study after study has found that requiring people to detox before housing them is not effective. What has been found is that by giving them a place to call home is the first step in allowing people to integrate themselves into society.”

Present candidates for Kelowna-Lake Country also included incumbent Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr, Conservative Tracy Gray and the Marijuana Party’s Darrin Fiddler.

Gray was present for the first half of the forum but had to leave early due to a prior commitment. Green Party’s Travis Ashley was not present due to a wedding he had committed to cater before he became a candidate.

Other candidates in attendance for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola riding included incumbent Conservative MP Dan Albas, Liberal Mary Ann Murphy, the NDP’s Joan Philip, Allan Duncan for the People’s Party of Canada and the Marijuana Party’s Brynn Jones.

As of right now, three more federal election forums are scheduled for the Central Okanagan ridings:

  • Sept. 19 – 7 p.m. at the Kelowna Senior Citizen’s Society hall
  • Sept. 21 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kelowna Downtown Library
  • Oct. 16 – 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Coast Capri Hotel

Election day is Oct. 21.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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