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Penticton candidates' forum a polite affair

From left, South Okanagan West Kootenay candidates Richard Cannings (NDP), Connie Denesiuk (Liberal), Tara Howse (Green), Helena Konanz (Conservative) and Sean Taylor(People's Party of Canada) squared off tonight at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.
October 01, 2019 - 9:55 PM

PENTICTON - Five candidates vying to be Member of Parliament for South Okanagan-West Kootenay in the upcoming federal election came away from tonight’s all candidate’s forum at Penticton’s Lakeside Resort pretty much intact and unscathed.

That is, there were no major gaffes, no controversial comments that should adversely impact any of the candidates’ chances moving forward during the polite affair that was attended by around 400 people.

The only gaffe of the evening came on a question on housing in Penticton when People’s Party of Canada candidate Sean Taylor found himself stumped for something to say.

He side-stepped the awkward situation by simply admitting it.

“I’m stumbling - I’m just going to shut up,” he said to some good natured laughter.

Three Penticton media members posed a number of questions to the four candidates, which also included incumbent MP NDP candidate Richard Cannings, Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk, Green Party candidate Tara Howse and Conservative candidate Helena Konanz.

The left side of the stage was occupied by the Conservative and PPC candidates, who rained on the parade by sticking to their party platforms of balancing budgets and, as Conservative candidate Helena Konanz put it, "living within our means.”

It was difficult to tell who the crowd favoured, as applause to answers and candidate’s statements was widespread and frequent, but it seemed like the loudest applause, at least at times, went to incumbent Cannings or Denesiuk.

The three major parties took turns taking mild shots at each other when possible, particularly after a question from the panel asked the candidate to point out holes in another candidate’s platform.

Conservative Helena Konanz attacked the NDP while Liberal Connie Denesiuk attacked the Conservative’s record on women’s and LBGTQ rights.

On rebuttal, Konanz accused the other parties of diverting attention away from spending and other “real issues,” drawing a rebuke by Green candidate Tara Howse.

The question of universal drug coverage also served to define the platforms of the five parties, as the NDP, Liberals and Green Party heartily endorsed the idea.

Conservative candidate Konanz asked how Canadians would pay for it, adding her door knocking campaign revealed people wanted a doctor before universal drug coverage.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to: nd be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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