EDITORIAL: Closed forum not an excuse to not participate

At first blush, it seems more than a bit undemocratic.

The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Young Professionals of Nanaimo are hosting an all-candidates’ debate for the two federal ridings.

But due to concerns over high spectator turnout and unruly hecklers in the audience, the organizations are allowing only their members and students at Vancouver Island University to attend.

But the format of the meeting hasn’t changed. Questions are still accepted from the public and will go through a committee before being presented to the moderator, who will pose the query to the candidates.

As usual, the audience won’t be allowed to shout questions from their seats or interact with the candidates during the debate.

Without a raucous, partisan audience shouting epithets like “shame” and “liar”, the health and quality of the debate might improve.

A good moderator will provide time for an initial answer before allowing rebuttal from other candidates, which could see more thoughtful and articulate answers on important issues.

The onus is on the organizers to provide an unbiased forum for that debate to happen. Because the meeting will be broadcast on Shaw TV, voters will still be able to see for themselves how the candidates fare and whether closing the debate to the public was beneficial.

Either way, failing to get an invitation to the debate is not an excuse to remove yourself from the election process.

Candidates are available daily during the election process to answer questions in person or by e-mail from any voter in the constituency. That is a door no one can close on the public.

Nanaimo News Bulletin

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