Candidates to face test from voters at forums

Voters will get their chance to learn more about Okanagan-Coquihalla candidates over the next week at both traditional forums and youth-orientated events.

On Tuesday,  the candidates will participate in an all-candidates forum in Peachland, sponsored by the Westbank and Peachland chambers of commerce. The forum is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the Peachland Community Centre.

Earlier in the day,  in Penticton,  an all-candidates meeting is scheduled from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the South Main Seniors Drop-In Centre.

“The Penticton seniors all-candidates forum provides a great opportunity to hear each candidate’s platform and to ask questions about the major issues facing seniors now and into the future, such as cuts to health care, lack of affordable seniors’ housing and the need for core funding for community and in-home supports which serve to keep seniors healthier and in their homes longer,” said Kelly Smith, executive director of the South Okanagan Wellness Society.

“The more seniors who attend the forum, the more who will be sending the message that their vote counts.”

Both forums will include candidates Dan Albas of the Conservatives, Dan Bouchard of the Green Party, David Finnis for the NDP, John Kidder for the Liberals, and independents Sean Upshaw and Dietrich Wittel.

The candidates will also all be at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Monday for a forum sponsored by the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce.

Doors to the event open at 6:30 p.m. with no latecomers admitted after the forum starts at 7 p.m.

This weekend,  local musicians and artists were to donate their time to help raise awareness of voting and politics to youth in a free event called Rock YOUR Vote in Penticton.

With the age group between 18-35 accounting for the weakest numbers at Canadian polls when it comes to election day, Rock YOUR Vote sets out to help change that in this area by reaching out in a new way to appeal to this demographic.

“Revolution and evolution come from people making noise and taking action. Without new voters, politics will be left to the nearly dead talking heads who run the show now,” said Kidder.

Upshaw, who is running in part because he is angry he could not vie for the Conservative nomination, also said he was pleased to take part, saying “youth is the voice of our future.”

The  Okanagan Coquihalla candidates were to  join promoter Ty Surowski for an evening of live music and art at the Shatford Centre on Saturday to help bring awareness to the important role youth play in the future of the country.

“I know first hand from my work as an instructor, it is vitally important to connect and encourage our youth to be the best they can be—as citizens and future leaders,” said Albas.

Rock YOUR Vote was billed as a free  event open to all ages.

“Democracy matters. Participation means being able to affect change, solve problems and improve things,” said Finnis.

Bouchard, the youngest candidate in the race— a veteran of the last federal election campaign when he also ran for the Greens—said he is “stoked” about the event.

“(It’s a) great opportunity for youth to get off the sidelines and get into the game.”

In addition to the Peachland Penticton all-candidates forums, Summerland residents will also get their chance to meet the candidates at an election forum to be held at Centre Stage Theatre April 26, 7 to 9 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and will close at 7 p.m.

The forum is being organized by the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism.

Lisa Jaager, manager of the chamber, said organizers are accepting candidate questions for the event.

Penticton Western News

Kelowna Capital News