Home » What keeps Wilks from attending all-candidate debates?

Posted: September 26, 2015

What keeps Wilks from attending all-candidate debates?

Election 2015

Wayne Stetski 2015By Wayne Stetski,

NDP Candidate for Kootenay-Columbia

More is being revealed about Kootenay-Columbia incumbent MP David Wilks’ debate strategy.

First, David Wilks claimed that he didn’t need to attend all the debates, because he won the last election without attending all the debates. He had a winning strategy in 2011, and he was going to repeat that strategy and win again in 2015.

When asked to participate in a process that made it easier for community organizers to ensure that all the candidates could attend, David Wilks said he was too busy making funding announcements to think about a debate schedule.

The reaction to these statements by the public was scathing, both in traditional and social media, with constituents and other candidates saying that this attitude was absolutely unacceptable.

Second, David Wilks admitted that maybe he did need to commit to attending debates, so he made an edict that he would only attend debates that were hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, and all questions had to be submitted to the organizers in advance.

Every other candidate wanted to take questions from the floor. We wanted to have answers and rebuttals. And we were open to having debates organized by a range of community organizations. But David Wilks said no.

A number of other debates were also organized that didn’t meet David Wilks’ strict requirements for participation, organized around important issues and by non-partisan groups. Because an election is about discussing all issues with all people, all three other candidates agreed to attend the MIR Centre Forum on Peace, Security and Climate Change in Nelson, a debate on First Nation Issues in Cranbrook, and a Youth Focussed Debate hosted by the Junior Chamber in Cranbrook.

In a CBC Daybreak interview, David Wilks claimed that he was attending all the debates. He said that last election he was new to the process and needed to pace himself – that’s why he didn’t attend all the debates.

But this election, he says he’s ready to attend them all. Unfortunately, that statement isn’t true. He’s only attending the debates he thinks he can control.

What do the MIR Centre Forum, the First Nations debate and the Junior Chamber debate have in common? It is simple. These debates involve answering questions that cannot be controlled. The formats for these debates include either unscripted questions from attendees, or questions submitted by other candidates.

Mr. Wilks’ excuses are simply an insult to voters. He began by saying he didn’t have to attend to win. Then he said he’s too busy to commit. Followed by a demand for strict rules in order for him to agree to attend. Followed by bizarre statements about how he was not ready to attend all debates when he first ran.

And now to be making completely false, and immediately disproven, statements on the radio the morning after he has skipped a debate, is just too much. I cannot imagine that even the most committed Conservative would think that David Wilks’ behaviour is defensible in this case.

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