Monday’s Forum for Millennial Leadership debate. An all-candidates’ meeting hosted by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is tonight, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Beban Park social centre. NEWS BULLETIN File photo

Editorial: Debate will let us compare candidates’ promises and personalities

All-candidates’ meeting is tonight, Jan. 24, at 7:30 p.m. at the Beban Park social centre

Lots of people predicted it would be a hard-fought byelection, and tonight we’ll find out just how hard-fought.

The Nanaimo provincial byelection campaign intensifies with an all-candidates’ meeting on Thursday, Jan. 24, with all six candidates invited to participate – Tony Harris of the B.C. Liberals, Sheila Malcolmson of the NDP, Michele Ney of the Green Party, Justin Greenwood of the B.C. Conservatives, Bill Walker of the B.C. Libertarian Party and Robin Richardson of the Vancouver Island Party.

The forum at the Beban Park social centre is being presented by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. There will be a meet and greet starting at 6 p.m., with the debate to follow at 7:30 p.m. The event is free to attend.

We’ll be curious to see the tone of the debate. Every election creates some hard feelings among supporters from the different camps, but so far this month the candidates themselves haven’t spent much time criticizing one another and have focused more on their own priorities and platforms.

Tonight’s debate, however, will be an opportunity for candidates to make a different sort of impression during a short campaign. They will look to be knowledgeable, competent and charismatic, but there are different approaches they might take to try to get those traits across.

Probably, each of the frontrunners will have to pay attention to more than one political opponent tonight. Parties don’t always like to publicly talk about vote-splitting – we know those conversations happen on doorsteps – but it will happen and it will be a consideration for voters. Tonight will not only help some voters choose who they like best, but may also alter perceptions of the strength of other candidates and impact decision-making that way.

No, we don’t know what to expect going into this debate. But we do know that as voters, we’ll know more after tonight than we know now.

RELATED: Nanaimo byelection candidates outline their priorities

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