By event moderator Don Black
By the time you read this, the 2015 federal election will be history. We will know who our Member of Parliament is, and thanks to a series of meetings in September, we will have already met them.
Regardless of the outcome, and no matter which party or parties are in control, it’s safe to say the issues we raised during those meetings haven’t gone away, and the conduct of Parliament will continue to affect our lives.
“Conversations with the Candidates” allowed for separate one-hour meetings with each candidate, with community members presenting their issues for the candidate’s response. The exchanges were quite direct, and everyone was able to get some personal sense of the candidates. They, in turn, were hearing directly from concerned individuals – in some cases very concerned – about specific issues.
Such as: assuring basic security and healthcare for the elderly poor; responding effectively to climate change; accepting more refugees, more rapidly; reforming federal governance; addressing youth unemployment and gross income inequality; reconciliation with First Nations.
Will you represent us, or will you represent your party? Can we trust you to do the right thing?
I think we were all a bit surprised at the number of people who attended, and the general sense of having accomplished something with the event. It also underlined that local communities and our organizations are directly affected by – and can affect – federal governance, perhaps nowhere so directly as in Ottawa.
In discussion afterwards, people said that being more engaged in the political process is important to them, and that an important part of their sense of community is being able to talk with other people about mutual concerns. So I’m looking forward to seeing where this first step might lead.
I want to thank everyone who participated and made the evenings lively and enjoyable, and especially all of those from the Fisher Heights and Area Community Association who continue to work to make events like this possible. It’s a great resource for our communities. We met some very interesting people, and we met each other.
Finally, on behalf of everyone, our thanks to the candidates who accepted our invitation to participate in democracy from the ground up: Marlene Rivier, Abdul Abdi, Anita Vanderbeld, Rod Taylor, and Mark Brooks. Sam Heaton, candidate for the Marxist-Leninist Party, was registered too late to be included in our event. Regardless of how the election has turned out, they all deserve our respect and thanks for being willing to stand for election, and we wish them all success.