So here’s my take on how the meeting went tonight.
Supporters in the room:
There were probably 20 rows of chairs with an aisle in the middle. It was pretty much full, plus lots of people standing. The only large number of clapping Liberal supporters were directly in front of me… about 4 rows worth. There were a few others dispersed here and there but other supporters, mainly NDP, some Green were in the very clear majority in the room.
The very long line of questioning supports this as well I think. There were a few “neutral” questions, mainly from community leaders. There were 2 setups for the Liberal candidate and 2 for the Greens and STV.
As far as the candidates themselves… in order of importance….
The Refederation Candidate was passionate and had his talking points. When he didn’t have a clue about a question, he said it, and you have to respect him for that. I hope that this party gets its message down pat a little better and attracts more supporters and candidates. Their views seem to be traditional “center” politics with a little bit of libertarianism thrown in.
The Green Candidate, Paul Musgrave, was very dry at first with his opening remarks. He read his remarks to the letter and was clearly nervous. Lucky for him, I think he managed to loosen up after the first few questions and he came on strong on his points and was good at stating the Greens position and not only how they differed from both the NDP and the Liberals but how they might agree. I could hear agreement in the room from NDP supporters on some points… though his position on minimum wage was met with noted stone silence. The Liberal backers did not appear to support him in any way and were clearly annoyed with his implied accusations of corruption and backroom dealing.
His explanation of STV was cute but I think probably fell a little flat. It was a valiant effort and took a ton of courage. I hope it gets more people talking about it at least, but I think it’s going to end up being associated with the Green Party, and that might actually hurt its chances of success.
The Liberal Candidate Dianne St. Jaques can be described as “staying on message”. She made a few points that I have heard almost verbatim from other Liberal candidates and the Premiere himself. She was not in a friendly place and she knew it. I think she did well in getting her points across, but it is clear that the only ones who agreed with them were in a serious minority in the room and a good chunk of the rest of the room took major issue with how she dodged a number of questions and stuck so closely to her talking points. She did focus a lot on the work she has done in her community in Ucluelet and in the ACRD and the connections she has made but in the end she didn’t win anyone over.
The NDP Candidate Scott Fraser played up his familiarity with the community. He was smooth and attacked the Liberal policies and the words of the Liberal candidate in many instances. He also repeated many times the issues he has brought to the Legislature as MLA. He certainly got the most applause from the crowd but again, no ones mind was changed here. I think he did solidify the support of those who might be waffling. But the Green candidates strong performance I think could give him a run for his money in terms of carrying the riding.
The most interesting question, politically, of the night, was certainly the one asked to the Paul Musgrave of the Greens on whether he would throw his support behind Scott Fraser if Scott supported STV….
In all, a great meeting I think. It wasn’t nasty, but still had some strong points made. It moved quickly and everyone got their say.
Advanced Voting begins May 6 at the Lawn Bowling Club in Port Alberni. General Voting Day is May 12.
Should be an exciting night!