Federal election candidates vying for the seat vacated by NDP stalwart Nathan Cullen will go head-to-head during an all candidates forum in Kitimat on Thursday, October 10.
With the election fast approaching on October 21, district residents haven’t had the opportunity to hear many of the candidates vying to replace Cullen as the Member of Parliament for the Skeena Bulkley Valley electoral district.
It’s not surprising — running an election campaign means canvassing communities throughout the 326,290 km2 district, which consists of mostly wilderness area, covering nearly the entire northwestern quarter of British Columbia, including Haida Gwaii.
The area includes the districts of Kitimat, Hazelton, New Hazelton, Stewart, Port Edward and Houston, the cities of Terrace and Prince Rupert, the town of Smithers and the villages of Masset, Burns Lake, Granisle, Telkwa and Port Clements, and many First Nations villages.
According to the 2016 census the population stands at just under 89,000, comprising only 2 per cent of British Columbia’s population of 4,648,055.
Cullen served as MP for the district since 2004, becoming the 38th MP for Skeena Bulkley Valley, a position he held and maintained with strong showings at the polls in the 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2015 elections, garnering close to 50 per cent of the votes with each election.
Vying for his post are eight candidates, alphabetically listed: Taylor Bachrach (New Democratic Party), Dave Birdi (Liberal), Jody Craven (People’s Party of Canada), Danny Nunes (Independent candidate), Claire Rattée (Conservative Party of Canada).
Merv Ritchie (Independent candidate), Michael Sawyer (Green Party of Canada) and Rod Taylor (Christian Heritage Party of Canada).
The all candidates forum will take place at the Mount Elizabeth Theatre on Thursday, October 10, starting at 7 p.m., and will be moderated by Kitimat Chamber of Commerce’s Thom Meier, last appearing on the stage as moderator for Kitimat’s municipal elections in 2018.
The forum will kick off with three-minute opening statements by each candidate, the order decided by a draw backstage. The opening statement will be made by the candidates from the candidates’ table, timed by members of Kitimat’s Toastmasters.
The timers will warn each candidate when a minute of time remains, showing a green card, and again when 30 seconds of time remains, showing a yellow card). The candidates will be red-carded by the moderator when they speak past their allotted three minutes.
The opening statements will be followed by questions for each of the candidates, posed by the moderator, drawn from submissions from the public. Questions from the public can be submitted either before the forum by emailing them to the Chamber of Commerce (firstname.lastname@example.org), or through written questions placed into a box on stage ahead of the forum.
Questions submitted will be randomly drawn from the draw box on stage. The moderator will read the question and each candidate will have a minute to answer.
Due to the timeline, there will be no microphones for the public to ask questions directly to the candidates.
Each candidate will have three ‘rebuttal cards’ that may be used to respond to another candidate’s question — the candidates will then have a minute to present their rebuttal).
At 8:45 p.m. the candidates will be invited to present two-minute closing statements, made in reverse order of opening remarks.
The forum will be broadcast by CityWest Community TV in SD on Channel 10 and in HD on Channel 310 in HD.
The forum will also be livestreamed through CityWest Community TV’s Facebook page and website. General voting day is on Monday, October 21, with advance voting opportunities on October 11, 12, 13 and 14.
Voters in the Cable Car/Nechako/Whitesail residential areas will vote at Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School, and voters from the Kildala residential areas will vote at Riverlodge Rec Centre, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters in Kitamaat Village will be able to cast their votes at the Haisla Rec Centre.
Voters will be required to present one piece of government-issued identification with their address on, or two pieces of identification, one which has their name on it and one with their address.
A list of other forms of identification which will be accepted at the polling stations can be found on www.elections.ca. Alternatively, voters can visit the electoral office at Kitimat Valley Institute, or contact 1-866-234-3643 tollfree.