Waters: Get this election campaign back on track

There have been too many distractions from all the parties in this provincial election campaign.

Two weeks into the provincial election campaign and there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of news stories—but few seem to about political positions and platforms.

Instead, many have been about extra curricular activities by candidates, with the B.C. Conservatives leading the way. That party has fired three candidates for inappropriate comments—both past and present—and has seen another one quit because he’s the subject of a drinking driving investigation. One of the fired candidates was Boundary Similkameen’s Misha Popoff, who was shown the door after comments deemed derogatory to single mothers and complaints about the Missing Women’s Inquiry came to light.

But the Conservatives were not the only ones to dump a candidate. The NDP started the campaign by firing its Kelowna-Mission candidate, Dayleen Van Ryswyk, for four-year-old comments she made about aboriginal people and French Canadians. Van Ryswyk is now running as an independent.

While the Liberals have not had to fire any candidates, they have had their share of faux pas moments, with one Lower Mainland candidate’s website linking to hardcore porn, Premier Christy Clark admitting she ran a red light with her 11-year-old son in the car and locally, Kelowna-Lake Country candidate Norm Letnick’s campaign using a volunteer who also happens to be a local radio news reporter.

AM1150 says it pulled Wendy McLeod off the air after discovering she was volunteering by writing news releases for Letnick’s campaign.

Astonishingly, the station’s general manger said he knew McLeod was volunteering for the campaign and that was OK. It was only when he discovered her volunteer role was in communications that it was deemed inappropriate.

Say what? Reporters covering elections should not be volunteers for candidates at all. In fact, reporters should not work for politicians at any time while they are reporters.

Having said that, Letnick’s B.C. Conservative opponent Graeme James overreacted a tad with the hyperbole in a news release on the issue. Titled: I Just Spent $65 Million in Advertising And All I Got Was This Lousy Radio Anchor, James accused Letnick of poor judgement in accepting McLeod as a volunteer and tried to link the B.C. Liberals spending $65 million in advertising—a move he called “trying to buy the media”—to the McLeod issue.

Seems like a bit of a stretch.

So, with two weeks to go in the campaign, let’s hope we can get back to what this is supposed to be about—comparing political differences—not who did a lousier job vetting candidates.

Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.