With the All Candidates Debate come and gone, the North Coast candidates in the May 14th election will be looking to hammer home their talking points over the next eleven days, hoping to secure voters intentions or sway the unconvinced to their thinking as the countdown to election day draws closer.
Thursday's public forum at the Highliner Conference Centre was hosted by the Prince Rupert Chamber of Commerce, the night's discussion moderated by students from the Charles Hays Debating Society, a group which received kudos from the Chamber for their hard work and preparation to make the night a success.
As for the night's political discussion, Thursday's debate by all accounts reinforced many of the previous talking points of all three parties, with little in the way of new information delivered, for the most part the three candidates stuck to their talking points in the delivery of the standard party platforms.
However, some other anecdotal impressions of the local debate, can help us divine a bit of a theme of the night, one which may play out a bit more towards the final week of the campaigning.
The main takeaway on the evening, would appear to be the efforts of Green Party candidate Hondo Arendt, who carefully and rather fully, highlighted some of the perceived inconsistencies of the NDP's approach to the campaign thus far.
Offering up some thoughts on such NDP policies as LNG development and the nature of fracking, the confusing message of the NDP on the topic of raw log exports and even some questions on their commitment to the cause of Wild Salmon and their intentions when it comes to slowing down the pace of aquaculture on the coast.
George Baker of the CBC was quick to his twitter feed for a portion of Thursday's event offering up at the moment observations, his thoughts are quite helpful and rather instructive towards the nature of the discussion during the all candidates forum.
Those points of interest it seems, have become some of the talking points for the most part in the post-mortem of the debate, discussions that percolated around the city on Friday. The more concise observations from Mr. Arendt, perhaps offering up the option for some to reconsider their intentions on voting day.
It is interesting to note his review of the NDP campaign thus far, especially when you consider the background of the NDP's Jennifer Rice and her previous interests with the environmental movement on the North Coast, which one would think would be a strength for her campaign.
In particular Mr. Arendt's focus and critique of her party's dedication to a few of the core issues, highlighted a number of questions on consistency, some of them on topics that she is probably best known for in the region.
At this time of the election campaign, the prospect of a major upset of the NDP seat in the riding is still probably thought by many to be the thing of a long shot.
An expectation perhaps reinforced by the course of Thursday's debate. The focus on her and the issues, suggesting that Councillor Rice is still very much considered the front runner heading towards election day.
We're pretty sure when the writ was dropped last month, Adrian Dix and the NDP most likely were counting the North Coast as a rather secure seat, especially following the Gary Coons years at the Legislature.
In addition to the groundwork from Mr. Coons over the last few Legislature sessions, Ms. Rice's campaign surely has benefited from the strength of the NDP organization in the riding. A group which traditionally is very good at getting out their vote and so far in the campaign, has been very helpful at providing for a visual presence around the community, if the counting of political signs is any form of indication.
However, one wonders just how secure that traditional block may be, especially in the wake of the hard fought campaign between the Councillor and PRDTU head Joanna Larson for the nomination earlier this year.
Will some of those that supported Ms. Larson, sit this one out, or perhaps vote with Mr. Arendt in this election cycle?
Such are the unknown twists of any election campaign.
When it comes to the nature of casting a vote, a candidate needs more than signage and a party endorsement on their side. The issues do tend to pop up as points of consideration for the voters as they prepare to cast a ballot.
Having those perceived inconsistencies of one's platforms and core beliefs outlined in a public debate, probably won't help secure any wavering votes we imagine.
Just how many of those wavering votes that there are on the North Coast could make a difference and is something that keeps us all inclined to wait for the final vote count of May 14.
No doubt hoping for a split along the left side of the political spectrum is the Liberal candidate Judy Fraser, who probably watched and listened with great interest as the debate night played out.
For Ms. Fraser, it seems that the night was very much one of holding the cards close to the vest, keeping for the most part to the BC Liberal party platform.
Whether that provides enough information for voters to think about as they head towards Election Day remains to be seen
Those who subscribe to CityWest cable, can view a repeat of Thursday's debate at 7 PM tonight on channel 10 of the cable service.
For a bit more background on the election campaign so far, we offer up our Election Desk Archives for links and review.
We'll provide links to any further reviews of the Thursday night below.
The Northern View-- North Coast MLA hopefuls debate at all-candidates forum in Prince Rupert
CFTK-- NC Candidates Forum (video)
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