EDITORIAL: Being choosy an iffy strategy

Candidates give pass to community forums at their peril

Voters on the West Shore, whether your home falls in the Cowchan-Malahat-Langford riding or Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, have had a number of opportunities to hear your candidates for member of parliament speak on all manner of subjects in group settings.

And more all-candidates meetings are scheduled on the West Shore ahead of election day Oct. 19.

But experience tells us that not every all-candidates meeting provides equal value for the voter. While some provide residents with a great chance to hear in-depth answers to questions that may be on voters’ minds, others devolve into a spouting of party line, if the candidates are not forced to think on their feet by alert moderators and audience members.

Attending one of these meetings is an investment in education on the part of residents. With so many people unsure of which candidate and party best fits their own values and hopes for their riding and country, hearing MP hopefuls in person, perhaps looking them in the eye, can go a long way toward building confidence in one’s voting decision.

It’s unfortunate that the organizers of some of these non-partisan meetings have seen certain candidates turn down their invitation to participate. More often than not it’s been Conservative candidates who have taken a pass on getting in front of larger numbers of their prospective supporters at one time.

While we understand that candidates and their handlers must make tough decisions on where best to spend their time, we wonder how giving your opponents more chances to sell voters on themselves and their party in your absence can pay off at the ballot box.

We believe voters are more likely to connect with newcomers to the federal political stage by getting in front of them. And with our ridings drawn differently and comprised of a different group of eligible voters, missing an opportunity to connect with more people would seem like a good investment in a candidate’s time.

Those strategy questions will be answered for candidates come Oct. 19.