Letters: Format flawed

Sooke's All-candidates meeting format excludes many residents

Dear Mr. Nyikes,

Re: All Candidates Meeting – 4 November 2014.

I have before me two advertisements respecting the above matter. One is from the chamber’s website and the other appeared in the Sooke News Mirror at page B1 dated October 22, 2014, coincidently adjacent to the Arts and Entertainment section.

The  chamber advertisement instantly gave rise to some serious concerns as follows:

1. Unlike any candidate forum for public office that I am aware off, taxpayers questions must be in writing and in the hands of the chamber by October 22, 2014.

This gave rise to a concern that the chamber, while expressing its non-partisan stance, might avail itself of the opportunity to “filter” out questions not in its interest or in the interest of some candidate(s).

2. I phoned the chamber office and the person who answered confirmed that no questions would be permitted from the floor and that the only people having access to a microphone would be local media and the moderator.

3. This  is somewhat akin to a convention format where resolutions are sent to a resolutions committee for their recommendation but even then there is participation from the floor and participants are provided with the resolutions ahead of the convention.

The advertisement in the Mirror reiterates that “our goal is to facilitate a public discussion on the issues affecting our community” but makes no mention of there being no floor microphones.

Accordingly my question is this:

How can there be a public discussion when there is no access to floor microphones?

The public (taxpayers) are in effect non participants and relegated to the role of mute observers.

Finally, I was taken aback at the notation that the meeting was billed as “FREE ADMISSION” given that the chamber is the recipient of a generous grant from the District of Sooke which, of course, is taxpayers dollars.

I am unaware of  other chambers in BC who are in receipt taxpayer funded grants unless to provide  specific services to a community.

I would urge you to rethink this format.

D. R. Matland

Sooke