Sechelt’s All Candidates Forum on the State of Canada’s Democracy drew an engaged capacity crowd to the Sechelt Indian Band Hall on Friday, October 2nd, moderated by District 46 School Board Chair Betty Baxter.

Three candidates, Ken Melamed – Green, Pam Goldsmith-Jones – Liberal and Larry Koopman – NDP gave open and honest answers to questions covering Canada’s democracy, governance and elections, climate change, science policy and transparency, social programs, health care, pharmacare and home care, the CBC, First Nations, women’s rights, marijuana,  pipelines, tankers and energy policy, engaging younger Canadians,  fisheries, child and family poverty, temporary foreign workers and immigration, taxation and tax evasion,  dual citizenship, Senate reform and more.

At the end of the evening the appreciative audience gave the three candidates a standing ovation to thank them for their openness and candor.

Missing in action was incumbent Conservative MP John Weston, who at the last minute claimed a sudden and unexplained conflict with some other event elsewhere in the riding, although none could be found on Weston’s website.  Jef Keighley, one of the forum organizers, informed the assembly that the date and time for the forum had been specifically chosen to accommodate Weston’s schedule, with the full cooperation of the other three candidates.  Out of courtesy, Keighley personally spoke to Weston at his Sechelt campaign office that morning to let him know that a table had been reserved for his campaign literature, only to be told that by Weston that he did not plan to attend.  Keighley later said, “It would appear that John Weston, our elected Member of Parliament, lacks the courage and the courtesy to stand before his constituents in an open forum and answer their legitimate questions.  How he can possibly profess to represent us is a mystery!”

The State of Canada’s Democracy forum was organized by the Alliance 4 Democracy and the Sunshine Coast Senior Citizens, two activist organizations on the Sunshine Coast, the western reaches of the West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea-to-Sky Country riding.