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ELECTION 2015: Are local candidate views real or are they just party puppets? Our questionnaire tests their answers

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
October 15, 2015 - 3:07 PM

It’s almost time to vote. You’ve got some tough decisions and we want to help.

But we’ll be up front and honest about this: As a local news outlet, covering a federal election campaign is frustrating and often provides little value.

Why? Because local candidates tend to play pretty close to the script of their party leaders. That’s who calls the shots and the rest of the candidates carry that message to local ridings. What’s the sense in repeating party campaign promises and attributing them to a local candidate?

But we are 100 per cent local and we deal with local candidates, so we wanted to know: Can the strength or weakness of a local candidate impact your choice? Can a well-informed, critical thinking candidate make a difference?

That’s the underlying answer we searched for when we asked candidates to answer seven questions. We asked them to answer personally and individually and we wanted to know how many of them would choose their own answers and how many would simply repeat the party line. We chose some of our questions just to expose these biases and find out who we are really considering sending to Ottawa.

We ranked local candidates on the honesty and individuality in their responses. This isn’t a preferential ranking, it’s just to help you choose how to vote. If a candidate simply repeats the party rhetoric, fine: You are voting for the party alone. Use our Voter’s Toolkit to help you decide which party deserves your vote.

But if you believe, like us, that democracy is strengthened by diversity and debate, that local candidates should be individuals among a party, not solely riding on coattails, strong enough to speak their own mind and able to bring local concerns to the governing party — whether they are in government or in opposition — then you will be better informed by knowing: Are they real people with real answers or are they just puppets for their party?

To find out how the candidates did, click the links below.



We sent our questions to every candidate with this notice: is committed to ensuring our readers have insight into individual candidates and ask that you personally please fill out this short questionnaire no later than Oct. 5.

You will see from the responses that answering seven questions was too much for some of the candidates, including two NDP candidates from different ridings who submitted identical answers. Tsk tsk. With each response you will see OUR TAKE explaining why we scored the answer as REAL or PUPPET.

We asked:

1. The number one concern I hear from voters is:

We are looking for local interests and concerns, not nebulous answers in party platforms. We are also interested in the candidates’ take on what those concerns are.

2. As an MP, what could you do to ensure zebra/quagga mussels stay out of B.C. water systems?

We asked this because it’s an important local issue and most likely not in many party platforms. It’s also a bit of a trick question. Most of the specified actions identified for this issue is, as you might have guessed, provincial jurisdiction. We didn’t ask what your party would do, we asked what you as an MP would do, and obviously that may be as a member of the opposition.

3. Do you personally believe in criminal penalties for recreational marijuana use?

We’ve heard over and again what the various parties will do. We want the responses of individual candidates. Will they give it to us?

4. Name one example of an issue you disagree with your party on. How would you reconcile that disagreement?

The most important question in this questionnaire. Like voters, candidates must disagree with at least one of the hundreds of issues espoused by their party. Simply put: If you say you agree with all of them, either you are spineless or we just don’t believe you.

5. Do you believe the federal government is doing enough to deal with mental health in our communities, in our courts and in our prisons? What can it do better?

No tricks here. Even though this is typically more of a provincial responsibility, we believe the way our society handles people with mental illness should be a fundamental issue in each and every community in this country and leadership starts at the top. We’re looking for plain language answers and understanding of the issue, particularly as it relates to the justice system, which is often where people finally get help.

6. Do you believe the federal government is doing enough to help veterans? What can it do better?

Again, no tricks. When governments commit our troops to combat and action, the accounting on those actions must provide for those men and women when they return home. While this is an issue all parties address in their platforms, the question is what do YOU believe. Again we are looking for signs they gave a REAL answer.

7. Do you believe a minority government can be effective?

Ask any candidate, no matter how obscure their party is, and they’ll tell you they are in it to win it. We believe minority governments, when elected, are the will of the people and parties should respect that will and — this may sound crazy — cooperate. If candidates skirt the question, it’s a sign they are in this for the party and not for the people.

BONUS: Will you declare your support for increasing openness and transparency in government and commit to interviews by the news media once elected? Yes or No.

This is personal for us. We just want a commitment from everyone trying to get elected that they will fight against their own party if needed to ensure it’s open and accountable. We fully intend to use this question against candidates if they are elected.

To find out how the candidates did, click the candidate links above.

— Marshall Jones

To contact the editor, email Marshall Jones at or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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