It’s been an interesting couple of weeks in Burnaby as my colleague Jennifer Moreau and I took in a couple of election debates each.
Jennifer went to the first debate, which was just for school trustee candidates. There was a lot of tension around the Burnaby school district’s anti-homophobia policy. Bullying and the district’s policies around it are a big issue in this election.
She then attended an all-candidates meeting on Nov. 3. The primary issues were city finances and homelessness.
Finances were also the main focus of the debate in North Burnaby on Nov. 4, which was a little more unusual in that all candidates got a chance to speak. While it was great to get an in-person introduction to them all, it left very little time for questions.
The final debate I attended last Wednesday was more… lively. The topics were affordable housing and poverty in Burnaby.
All the candidates who participated had gotten into their groove by then, and were able to make their points (for the most part) in the time given.
The questions from the audience were more pointed and there was a more critical mood towards the current city government (the Nov. 4 meeting had all of school board and council speaking, and there seemed to be more Burnaby Citizens Association supporters in attendance, with most points met with enthusiasm from the audience).
The question period at the end got intense, with many of those in line upset that the mayor wasn’t there to answer their questions – particularly about city spending – directly (he told me afterwards that he had to leave before the last all-candidates question period due to a prior commitment).
Over the course of the debates we’ve been able to see new candidates become more confident, and everyone develop clear campaign points.
But is Burnaby watching? My impression at both of the meetings I attended was that they were mostly populated with party supporters with only a handful of unaffiliated residents at each.
Are you paying attention to the election debates? What are your thoughts thus far?