Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Election Forum: Mayor's Race --- Some separation develops among the four candidates

Monday night's Chamber of Commerce Election Forum provided a chance for the candidates for elected office to provide a snap shot of some of their themes, and with responses limited to just thirty seconds for a range of questions, a snap shot is all that those in the Lester Centre or viewing at home would get.

To better reflect the two races for public office that of the Mayor's race and that of Council we're reviewing the two hour Monday event in two stages, with our notes below a look at the talking points and theme development for the four candidates running for Mayor.

The proceedings on the night were kept on track by CBC Daybreak North's Carolina de Ryk, who also provided for the first flight of questions in the first hour; while KJ Millar from the weekly newspaper provided for the questions in the second of the two hours.

For the most part, the evening served to provide for some separation between the four candidates. 

With both Herb Pond and Chrystopher Thompson coming across as a bit  better prepared to put forward their themes, while Steve Fitzpatrick and Jason Hoang were somewhat light on much in the way of details to their campaigns and what they would bring to office,  sticking mostly to general themes on the night.

For the most part. the biggest winner on the night was soon to be departing Mayor Lee Brain, with many of the candidates both in the Mayor's race and that of Council praising his past work on vision plans such as Hays 2.0, the 2030 vision, as well as his work on Climate and sustainability themes.

The candidates on the night declaring how they want to carry on and build on his plans should the electors send them to office

As for the candidates seeking to move into his office the opening remarks provided for the narrative to their campaigns for the audience on the night and with sixty seconds to put their best foot forward it looked somewhat like this:

Mayor's Discussion Opening Comments 

Stephen Fitzpatrick: -- 30 year resident of Prince Rupert, involved in politics through much of his life dating back to his University days in Newfoundland. Worked with union politics and ran for council twice in 2003 and 2005. Involved in the Kaien Anti Poverty Society.

Jason Hoang: -- Family today is the focus for his remarks, we need bold action to create a vision to make Prince Rupert beautiful, Prioritize focus on affordable housing for all, youth programs, recreation and job training program. Has a background in fishing, transportation, hospitality which give him a unique view of local issues. Create more opportunities for your, as well as to collaborate with other leaders.

Herb Pond: -- Opens in Sm'algyax. Notes of how the Container Terminal  revolutionized our economy and thanks to the workers at the terminal we are a world class seaport at a first class railhead   recounting some of the industries now in place. Notes of the city's infrastructure challenges that the community has faced and what is needed is someone who knows how to work with Council to gets things done. He stepped aside from two terms as Mayor  to focus on his family as Mayor Brain has done, wants to build on the work of the Mayor and Council to catch the community up to the success of the Container Terminal.

Chrystopher Thompson: -- He recounted his Thaltan heritage and career path in education which now has him with the School District at Pacific Coast School and how his work there has him wanting to create lasting systemic change in the community.  His main focus was on Housing and how there is a desperate need for all kinds of Housing, highlighting how Housing will create the growth and address the oncoming volume of residents coming to the community. He observed towards the past hard times and how the community can come through the housing hard times together.

The Question and Answer period highlighted some of the shortcomings to the format and its short windows for reply and  perhaps dividing the Forum into two nights would have been a better approach to allow candidates to expand on some of their themes.

Most of the questions were crafted by the Moderator or panelist on the evening, with only a few questions submitted by the audience and selected by the organizers, offered up to the candidates for comment. 

That was an unfortunate casualty to the format which we imagine left many other elements for review from the audience untapped on the night.

A more rewarding experience for those looking to learn more about the candidates might have been to have one night dedicated to the civic governance themes and the other night towards the social issues that made for a number of questions. 

On the latter, on two of the topics introduced, we didn't learn too much when it comes to how the candidates feel on themes of reconciliation and support for the LGBTQ Plus community. 

The Mayoralty candidates provided the answers to the topic that one might expect from those seeking public office, that of being in favour of better relations with First Nations and the work required to address the issues in the community. With much of the commentary limited to just thirty seconds soundbytes, the commentary provided for a somewhat of a word salad combination to the theme. 

Much of that same narrative was used towards the topic of LGBTQ support in the community, with a number of candidates observing how they are supportive allies, aware of pronouns and their use and for some to make note of their appearances on the Rainbow Nation podcast in town, while others shared of some personal or family notes to the topic.

Our overview from the night will focus on those issues which seemed to bring the most discussion and offered a more varied and as detailed an insight as thirty seconds could offer  towards different approaches on the night.


Chrystopher Thompson -- Build on the good work of Council in the past, any decisions must reflect the Housing Needs assessment that was started in April to determine the range of housing that is require. Spoke of the need for partnerships.

Herb Pond -- This Mayor and Council has done the heavy lifting and there's not a lot be done about bylaws,. Observed how builders talk about dealing with muskeg, demolition issues and financing. Noted as to how the City can play a massive role when it comes to financing and to opening up new subdivisions. The City can bring partnerships together Mr. Pond noting how banks don't want to lend when it comes to building new developments in Prince Rupert.

Jason Hoang -- Need to create focus groups with community leaders on issues and provide more information to the public on themes of housing so the community can work together on the issues.

Stephen Fitzpatrick -- Spoke towards cutting red tape when it comes to building permits and zoning  related housing, advocated for more focus by the City on cooperative housing and work with other levels of government, put money from land sales and building lots put that into a Legacy Fund to build houses.

Official Community Plans and Land Use Procedures

Stephen Fitzpatrick -- City must be more involved in cooperative housing and provide some funds to go with Federal and provincial monies to put into a Legacy fund to invest in cooperative housing and low income housing.

Jason Hoang -- Find ways to take care of Red Tape, a need to make the issue more public and to have the public better understand the issues and what to do help address it.

Herb Pond -- Hailed the new OCP in place and noted for his the key is housing for Seniors and how by providing new Senior housing in the community would be a triple win for the community. Housing supply would be released, the City Centre would be improved and Seniors would be in the kind of housing that they desperately need.

Chrystopher Thompson -- He too agreed that Seniors Housing in the downtown area would be a significant move and would free up other housing in the community. As well he advocated for the need to develop a Housing Plan, making use of the city's land holdings and land sales to help partner to develop affordable housing in the community

How to Improve Health Care  Access in Prince Rupert

Chrystopher Thompson -- We need to find a way to attract medical professionals to the community and that is through the creation of housing so that they have somewhere to live and to help add to the staffing level at the local facilities.

Herb Pond -- He paid tribute to the work of Mayor Brain on recruiting health care workers and observed he would do exactly the same thing. He recalled his past work on previous Council's towards Acropolis Manor and Raven's Keep as well as to observe as to how local politicians would be able to use appointments to regional health boards to advocate for the community.

Jason Hoang -- He noted of the attrition rate for medical professionals and paramedics in the community, spoke of the need to beautify the town and a place where people are proud to live in. Ensure that the health care professionals are well compensated, create opportunities to grow the community.

Stephen Fitzpatrick -- Observed of the High property taxes and that there is a need to provide proper services which will attract people to the community and give them cause to stay. He also spoke of the need to keep the pressure on the provincial government and to ensure that the MLA is doing her job.

Scrap the Port Tax Cap Initiative

Stephen Fitzpatrick -- Notes of how the Port Corporation is in no mood into sharing tax revenues, as well as how they enjoy the Tax Cap. He observed that the City will need to work hard with the province and have the MLA Introduce a Private Members Bill in the Legislature to ensure that Prince Rupert and other communities share in the revenues that Port corps are taking in.

Jason Hoang -- Called on his experience with sports and in chess as to how he would put his rice to succeed towards the issue. Noting how he would not back down and how conflict makes him stronger and how he would fight for the issue and how good enough is no longer good enough.

Herb Pond -- He recounted the days of bringing in the container terminal to the community and how it was through a coalition. He called for First Nations and other partners to join in a coalition to the issue now. he also noted that solving the Tax Cap issue is just the start and would not address all of the city's infrastructure issues.

Chrystopher Thompson -- Opened his overview by speaking towards how he has no existing or past experience with International oil and gas companies and how he would never spread anti-scientific lies about the environment and the impact of greenhouse gases, just so a company could get slightly higher profit. He proclaimed himself pro development and pro user, observing of the many features of Prince Rupert  industry and port  how those features should give industry cause to consider that over any incentive provided by a tax cap.

Transparency at City Hall

Chrystopher Thompson -- Transparency is making sure what is going on at City Hall as well as what is happening with Public Works and other elements, suggesting the creation of a Staging Plan to provide more information to the public.

Herb Pond -- Notes its an area where he is pretty old fashioned, how Council is doing the people's business and it's a sacred responsibility, enacted in Legislation. Notes how he is a bit of bear on the topic noting how its tempting to slide things into Close Council meetings and how decision making needs to be as public as possible and how Council needs to be approachable.

Jason Hoang -- He observed how it means to be honest, noting how today's wealth has gone digital and how the public needs to know what's happening with Council whether its good or back.

Stephen Fitzpatrick -- Noted how it's always been a dilemma, observing how there are so many ways now to share information, stating he is old school and would like to see the council minutes printed in the local newspaper for the public to read and decide for themselves on the issues.

Climate Change issues and Policy towards 2030 goals

Steven Fitzpatrick -- Noted how Rupert has always been a bit behind the eight ball on those themes, noting of the current recycling program and the need for more expansion of it, the need for improvements to Transit and dropping fees to encourage more use.

Jason Hoang -- Would carry on with the Mayor's recent initiatives to the issue and create more of an campaign towards adapting to new ideas like composting, landfill use and  use pf community garden to promote more knowledge. 

Herb Pond -- Noted that composting is coming, as well as more attention towards food supply issues in the community. Observed how the construction of the new dam will offer the chance to create energy and how that could create a city based electric project to provide the community it's own power, he also noted of possibilities for Watson Island or elsewhere Blue Hydrogen exports.

Chrystopher Thompson --  Observed on the city's current 2030 vision plans and how it could make the city more  walkable, development of more community gardens for food supply and the creation of green jobs in Prince Rupert. He also referenced the opportunity to create its own municipally owned energy production to create jobs and provide redundancy in event of natural disasters. He also spoke of the city's already in place plans for sustainable development and looked towards the prospects for solar and tidal energy development.

How to Have the City make CN/Port and Industry pay taxes over donating to community

Stephen Fitzpatrick -- Noted that the City can talk cooperation all they like but if there is no will to participate there's not much to do. He did speak to the need to get very political with them, build coalitions, network with other communities and to push the provincial government to change legislation to address the issues.

Jason Hoang -- Agreed to the previous points and the need to consult with other communities with similar issues, spoke of his ability to reach big media and to use bigger media platforms to highlight the community concerns.

Herb Pond -- Spoke to the real problem that is the issue of valuation of port and industry related properties and how every other rural community is facing the same situation. He spoke of the need to create a united coalition, recounting how he had done similar work in his past time on Council through UBCM. Noting he had done that work before and would do it again.

Chrystopher Thompson -- He recounted the current issue related to the marine export industries in the community and observed that unless the Port Cap issue is settled they won't be paying their fair share towards what Prince Rupert deserves and what Prince Rupert is owed, stating the current situation a Free Ride. He also suggested expecting that a for profit corporation will do things of its own volition is unreasonable

The Closing Comments didn't really shed much new information from the collective, with the candidates mostly using their final minute to recap the same themes they spoke to in their opening comments.

For those looking to review all of the themes covered on the night, you can access the candidates commentary through the video and timeline below:

16:30 --21:00 -- Opening Comments
37:00 -- 39:00 -- Housing
41:00 -- 42:30 -- Official Community Plans and Land Use Procedures
43:30 -- 46:00 -- Plans for Indigenous Reconciliation
58:00 -- 1:00:00 -- How to Improve Health Care Access in Prince Rupert
1:03:00 -- 1:12:00 -- Intermission 
1:13:00 -- 1:15:30 -- Scrap the Port Cap Initiative
1:28:30 -- 1:30:30 -- Transparency City Hall
1:32:30 -- 1:34:30 -- Climate Change Policy towards 2030 goals
1:46:30 -- 1:48:30 -- Support for the LGBTQ Plus community
1:51:00 -- 1:53:00 -- Getting the Port to pay taxes rather than donations
1:53:00 -- 2:05:00 -- Closing Comments

Tomorrow we'll dig into the Council elements of the Election Forum and how the eight candidates took on the questions on the evening.

You can follow the campaign themes develop on the way to October 15th through our Election Archive page.


  1. Everyone praised the current mayor and council I think I see a vein popping out of the two angry old commenters on this blog

  2. LOL, yes ageism (at least in your mind, though how can you be sure?) is a nice look, do you recommend ice flows for anyone at a certain age?

    And yes everyone was quite deferential to the Mayor's past work and all seem to want to carry it forward.

    Though there wasn't a lot of discussion of he work of Council over the last eight years beyond the vision plans. So that will make for some welcome background to how they would like to run the city for voters to consider


  3. "Herb Pond: -- Opens in symalyec." I think you mean Sm'algyax.

    1. Correct you are, interpretive text on computers is not always my friend I find, I have corrected it, thank you for the heads up, missed that in proof reading.


  4. Wasn't a very good format. 30 seconds to answer and 10 seconds to formulate a response. The candidates were often cut off before they were able to answer and say anything substantial.


    Too many questions on social issues. I wanted to hear about meat and potato issues, not reconciliation and LGBTQ. How are they going to fix our broken town?

    Jason Hoang is in over his head. Nice guy but he should have run for a Council seat.

    Herb Pond knows his stuff. His experience is what the city needs right now.

    Reid Skelton-Morven seems too arrogant. He's lost my support.

    Teri Forster surprised me in a good way although I didn't need to hear about pronouns.

    Andy Chugh spoke well and was in tune with the issues. I like him.

    After 8 years on Council Wade Niesh should be able to provide remarks without reading a prepared statement.

  5. The format (30 seconds was too short), camera work and microphone wrangling was distracting, but overall a good first night to set the tone leading into election day on October 15th.

    Considering the number of incumbents running again, it is a given that there would be buckets of praise for the previous council.

  6. For those expecting the transparency express to roll into the City Hall station, you'll be waiting on the platform for a while because of the three L's.

    Land - Legacy is the land entity of the City and is operated by senior administration not council.
    Labour - ongoing training and development is needed, continue to invest in our people and upskill them. City Hall needs to be a great place to work!
    Legal - Without air tight by-laws and enforcement, city hall will continue to be exposed to legal action.

  7. It's quite a bit more complicated than that.

    The senior managers who serve as directors of Legacy are appointed by and can be replaced by the council as the shareholders on behalf of the city. Under the Business Corporations Act the shareholders can requisition corporate general meetings and make proposals to be considered at such meetings.

    There is no prohibition against the council disclosing or discussing in public the financial or economic interests of a municipal corporation as a public body, although they can refuse to do so if, subject to a test of reasonableness, they believe that release of information would cause harm. The affairs of a corporation are not on the list of matters that a council "must" discuss in closed meetings.

    As a wholly owned municipal corporation Legacy has the same obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FIPPA) as the City, including to disclose information in response to FOIs.

    On Labour, the City is obliged under the Community Charter and FIPPA to protect the privacy of individual employees and job applicants and often holds closed meetings for those purposes, but that protection does not go so far as to restrict disclosure of information about position, functions, remuneration, contract details, or expenses. As for programs that are intended to improve the skills development and wellness of all or of classes of employees there is no prohibition against those topics being discussed in public, and previous councils have appropriately discussed and voted on those issues in public.

    As for Legal, advice from lawyers, say relating to preparing bylaws and during legal proceedings, is usually received in private, although there is no strict requirement to do so; like so much else that information is in the "may" category. There is nothing to restrict the council from discussing the aims of proposed bylaws in public just like senior governments discuss the aims of proposed legislation in public, often in committee hearings.

    There are a lot of fine points on these issues, which often have been interpreted as blanket prohibitions when they are not. Of everyone running, including the incumbents, in my view Herb Pond has the best grasp, based on experience, of these complexities in relation to the general rule that council conducts itself transparently with very specific exceptions.

    1. The clarification is appreciated, especially with the "may", "must", "refuse" categories.

      From what many have witnessed over the past four years of council meetings. Councilors rarely ask questions, perhaps they are unsure if they are allowed to?

      Council members need to be asking questions, even questions that scare them. Without questions from elected officials, residents will continue to view City Hall as an opaque, unsafe and untrustworthy place.