Duelling candidates’ debates in Colwood
The scheduling of two allcandidates meetings tonight has revved up the election drama in Colwood as political hopefuls have divided into two opposing groups.
Separate debates for the Nov. 19 election will take place at two churches.
A group of residents calling themselves a coalition of concerned citizens organized their event at the Colwood Pentecostal Church, saying they disagreed with the format to be used in the rival meeting set up by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce.
Organizers for both the coalition and the chamber say they announced their forum first, and neither has plans to reschedule their events. But the animosity goes beyond the overlapping schedules.
At least two candidates have an affiliation with the chamber, which organized a candidates’ forum at the Anglican Church of Advent. Opponents worry that biases may show through when organizers select questions from the public in advance of the debate.
Coun. Judith Cullington is a member of the chamber and candidate Carol Hamilton is a former director. Council has also approved grant money for the chamber, giving critics the impression that there is a conflict of interest in having the chamber organize the event.
“They screen the questions, so some candidates get the lollipop question and another person gets a real humdinger,” said council candidate Rick Mckay.
Cullington does not shy away from her membership with the chamber. “Am I supposed to be ashamed because I’m a member of a progressive group in Colwood? It doesn’t make sense,” she said.
The coalition forum has been organized by former members of the Colwood Ratepayers for Accountability Association, said mayoral candidate Brian Tucknott. The coalition is a “bit of an offshoot of the ratepayers,” he said.
Mayor David Saunders, who isn’t seeking re-election, called on both sides to either reschedule the debates or combine them.