Langara hosts (almost) all-candidates forum

Photo by Chandler Walter
Photo by Chandler Walter

Right-wing seat left empty

By Chandler Walter, Humour Editor

Those hoping to represent the swing riding of Vancouver South came together at Langara College for an all-candidate forum, though unfortunately it did not quite live up to its name.

Harjit Sajjan, the Liberal candidate running second place in the polls, sat with Amandeep Nijjar of the NDP, and Marxist-Leninist candidate Charles Boylan; all hoping to sway voters into electing them to represent the riding.

Also on the panel was Michael Barkusky for the Green party, though his eyes are on the seat representing Vancouver-Granville. He was filling in for Elain Ng, Vancouver South’s Green Party candidate.

Noticeably absent was Conservative incumbent Wai Young, or any Conservative replacement to fill the empty seat at the far right of the candidate’s table.

Dr. Stephen Phillips, Political Science Professor and organizer of the forum, began the evening by explaining the absence: “The local candidate and member of parliament, Wai Young, has declined to attend today, citing a heavy schedule. I therefore contacted other Conservative campaign offices, no fewer than 11, in fact, in the Greater Vancouver area.”

Unfortunately, none of the dozen Conservative candidates were able to attend, with Phillips either receiving no reply, or finding that the candidates were “otherwise engaged.”

The seat, a Conservative sign, and a glass of water were left at the end of the table in the hopes that a candidate might arrive late, though none did.

The topics of the forum had a wide range, with members of the audience taking turns to ask questions after each candidate had a five-minute opening speech. All candidates were given equal speaking time, and apart from a few differing views on issues such as Bill C-51, the forum was generally well-mannered.

Harjit Sajjan defended Liberal support of Bill-C51, explaining that there are three favourable aspects to the bill, with the rest of being an attack on civil rights. He said that: “Our job as responsible opposition is to make this bill better for all Canadians.” Nijjar, Barkusky, and Boylan suggested that the legislation should have just been thrown out.

The entire panel was in agreement that some form of electoral reform is needed, that there needed to be an increased focus on the environment, and that action is necessary to help poverty-stricken Canadians. Prompted by a student’s question, and with the Conservative seat empty, the forum began an unopposed discussion on where Harper’s Conservative government had gone wrong.

Wai Young’s campaign office was contacted shortly after the end of the forum, and when asked why Young couldn’t be in attendance, the response was: “Our schedule is incredibly tight; we have lots of commitments and unfortunately there are some requests we have to decline.”