Helena Konanz, Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay
The Conservative candidate in the upcoming federal election is throwing down the debate gauntlet committing to at minimum 12 debates and proposing a committee to organize them.
Konanz issued the challenge in a press release issued late Tuesday night.
“When I travel across our region and speak to residents one thing is very clear, people are desperate for an alternative to Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government”, says Konanz. “Our riding has been ignored by Ottawa, and people are hurting because of it. It is crucial that all the candidates make themselves available to every constituent so that all voices can be heard. We should have a full slate of debates that cover the entire riding and I am committed to attending every single one. We shall see if Justin Trudeau’s candidate or our NDP opponent agrees with me,” Konanz states in the press release.
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Konanz is proposing the creation of a committee that includes one representative from each campaign who can work with debate organizers from community-based groups to schedule a series of debates throughout the riding.
Liberal candidate for South Okanagan-West Kootenay, Connie Denesiuk, disagrees with Konanz’ committee premise, adding that debates and forums should be left up to the organizers and voters in the communities.
“We should not be hijacking these kinds of decisions, they belong in the community. In 2015 I attended at least all 20 candidates forums throughout the riding. These were hosted by students sometimes in schools, by seniors sometimes and they raised the issues that were important to them. In the schools, they chose a format that was important to them,” Denesiuk said.
The different forums took on multiple formats and were suited to the needs of the voters who hosted them, she said.
“I look forward to every all-candidates forum. I feel confident the public and our communities will see a stark contrast between the candidates,” Denesiuk said.
Konanz continues in her press release that there should be a minimum of 12 debates in the geographically large riding.
“So that everyone has the opportunity to attend one near their home.” Konanz said. “With four of the five candidates being based in the South Okanagan, I challenge all contenders to ensure this democratic process is delivered to all regions within our riding. My campaign will be reaching out to all the other campaigns to make this a reality. I will be all over the riding this fall ready to speak to the Conservative Party’s vision for our region and the country. I firmly believe that democracy should be accessible to all citizens. Time will tell if my opponents feel the same way.”
The Osoyoos Times has reached out to the other federal election candidates for their response, and will update the story as it unfolds.