The Sooke and WestShore Chambers of Commerce in partnership with the Sooke Multi-Belief Initiative co-hosted a non-confrontational, intentionally respectful all-candidates forums ahead of the Sept. 20 federal election.

The six Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke candidates were recorded in a group setting on Sept. 7. The forum is now posted on YouTube and can be viewed on Youtube. All candidates were present at the event: Rob Anderson (People’s Party), Laura Frost (Conservative Party), Randall Garrison (incumbent, New Democratic Party), Harley Gordon (Green Party), Doug Kobayashi (Liberal Party), and Tyson Strandlund (Communist Party).

Unlike traditional debates, this and earlier Sooke forums held during the 2018 federal election and last year’s BC provincial election are rare opportunities for candidates to state, without cross-talk and criticism, the benefits of their platforms and their personal visions for the future of the riding and country.

Each candidate addressed, for a maximum of two minutes each, the following subjects selected by the organizers based on polling results focused on this year’s top election issues:

  • Affordability: “Many individuals and families in our area are unable to find attainable housing due to the lack of availability and the ever-growing cost of living resulting in inadequate housing or even homelessness. What programs will you initiate to alleviate this problem?”
  • Climate Crisis: “What proposals do you have to address the impacts of the climate crisis in our riding — including reducing greenhouse gases and adapting for climate change?”
  • Health Issues: “What will you do to alleviate the issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as improve access to treatment for addiction and mental health issues?”
  • Cooperation with Local Governments: “How will you contribute towards the financial sustainability of local governments and partner with them and the provinces to address attainable housing, climate and health issues as well as other essential local initiatives such as infrastructure development, seniors and youth programs, and indigenous relations?”

Candidates were asked to emphasize how national funding promises will actually trickle-down to the Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke riding. Watch how each responded on Youtube.

The forum was moderated by Sooke Chamber President Karen Mason. The SMBI’s Don Brown introduced the format and conduct of the forum. WestShore Chamber Executive Director Julie Lawlor offered opening and closing remarks.