By Greg Price
To become an informed voter, Taber and District Chamber of Commerce is holding a Meet the Candidates Forum for the Cardston/Taber/Warner constituency.
“I found them very well run by the Toastmasters, they run a pretty tight ship. It’s very informative and everyone gets to ask the questions that are important to them,” said Tyrel McLelland. “I think the candidates learn just as much as the electorate does, the candidates learn what’s important to their constituents. These are the guys voting for you and they are telling you what they want you to do.”
The chamber president likens the forum format to a job interview to see if candidates have the leadership skills that are required in office as strong public speakers.
“When you are working in the Legislature, you have to be able to stand up and talk,” said McLelland. “Show up early to get a seat and remember that failure to take part in the democratic process is to consent to a dictatorship. So come learn who you should vote for and why and make your decision on voting day.”
The forum will be moderated by the Sugar Town Sweet Talkers Taber’s Toastmasters.
The organization’s president, Karen Ingram, explained each of the candidates will have five minutes to introduce themselves and state their platform. Questions will be accepted from the floor, with the people that are officially registered as people file in getting first priority.
“They are given one minute to ask the question and then the candidate the question was asked of gets two minutes to reply. If the other candidates wish to respond to the same question, they get one minutes and thirty seconds.”
The process is used so that one candidate does not dominate the Q&A portion of the forum. It also speeds up the questions so that more can be asked in the evening that runs two hours.
“It’s so one person on the floor from the audience can’t spend 20 minutes giving background to their question, that would take absolutely forever. We ask the questions be short, concise and to the point.” said Ingram.
At then end of the evening, after all the questions are answered, each candidate gets three minutes to wrap up.
Having attended four forums and taken part in two, Ingram noted forums remain civil for the most part.
“Honestly, we do not find it too much of a problem, but every once in awhile we get someone who wants to drag on with a question,” said Ingram. “I would expect maybe some more pointed questions this time around or heated questions simply because of the Wildrose/PC controversy.”
Whatever the political stripe a Toastmaster has, Ingram noted the organization holds up the notion no moderator will let that come out in the forum.
“We will try our very best not to support one party or one candidate. We are simply there to moderate,” said Ingram. “We all have our personal feelings of course, but we do not even discuss that among each other.”
The confirmed candidates in the Cardston/Taber/Warner Constituency forum (in party alphabetical order) are: Del Bodnarek (Alberta Party), Aaron Haugen (NDP), Brian Brewin (PCAA) and Grant Hunter (Wildrose Party).