KAMLOOPS - The Kamloops and District Labour Council representing around 13,000 unionized workers in Kamloops has chosen Bill McQuarrie, Leslie Lax, and Jeanne Marr as the candidates they endorse in the 2017 byelection. McQuarrie is running for mayor while the others are running for council.
The group came to the decision by hosting a forum where everybody running in the election was invited to take part. To supplement the questions asked of the candidates during the forum, they were also asked to fill out a questionnaire highlighting several issues including municipal core reviews, procurement policies, and transit.
Council President Barbara Nederpel says with the number of candidates in the race, a traditional forum wouldn't have worked.
"The questionnaire gave the candidates a chance to contemplate issues they may not have been exposed to," she says in a media release. "And it allowed us to gain a well-rounded understanding of the candidate’s values that we knew we couldn’t get to with a two question public forum."
During the forum, all the candidates were asked the same two questions. The first was regarding the living wage while the second pertained to the contracting out of city work to private companies.
"These are core issues for labour," she says in her statement. "If someone works full time they should be able to live above the poverty line and be able to fully participate in society. Contracting out municipal services generally means citizens get lower quality or reduced services and drives down the wages of the workers for maximum profit for the contractor."
Nederpel does not elaborate on what exactly McQuarrie, Lax, and Marr said at the podium and in their questionnaire responses that lead to them getting the groups backing, but she claims it was the toughest endorsement decision the council has ever had to make.
She adds that honourable mentions go out to mayoral candidate Glenn Hilke and council candidate Bill Sarai. All the candidate responses as well as a video of the forum are expected to be posted to the labour council's website by the end of the week.
The endorsement announcement comes just one day before the advanced polls open on Wednesday, Sept. 20. There will also be advanced polling available Sept. 21 and Sept. 27. The official election day is Sept. 30.
For more on the 2017 Kamloops byelection, go here.
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