With the federal election just around the corner, the Fort St. James all-candidates meeting brought out all sorts.
Some arrived unsure and confused and others disgruntled and emotional. Then there were those who were simply curious to take a sneak peek, having no clue of who was about to stand before them and what they were about to say.
The meeting held Wednesday evening at the Music Makers Hall was presented by the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce and the B.C. Northern Real Estate Board.
Three candidates were in attendance: Tyler Nesbitt representing the Conservative party, Brad Layton from the Liberal party, and New Democratic party candidate, Nathan Cullen. All three are preparing to represent the vast Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding which covers one third of the province.
The meeting began with a fifteen minute speech from each candidate followed by a question and answer period. The candidates were then asked to share their final words and a social with sweets concluded the evening.
Prior to the meeting, the candidates were busy formulating their ideas and proposals for about 70 attendees.
This is a first for conservative candidate Tyler Nesbitt. The 32-year-old is determined to not let that stand in his way.
“I want to get this first one under my belt and get my message across,” Nesbitt said. Born and raised in Prince Rupert and now living in Terrace, Nesbitt has grown up and seen big changes in Northwestern B.C.
“I was born and raised here. I’ve seen friends come and go for either school or work. I want to change this,” Nesbitt said. “I want to make a clear impact on my kids and other kid’s lives in this region. I’m passionate about this place and I want to deliver results for all people here,” he said.
Brad Layton certainly did not go without a voice. The first time liberal party candidate believes that his own booming voice can act as a louder one for the people of the region. “Ottawa is always bringing their voices to us. I want to bring our voices to them,” Layton said.
Nathan Cullen representing the NDP party was eager to hear what was on people’s minds. “I believe in engagement, I hope for as many people as possible tonight because there a lot of issues that need to be faced,” Nesbitt said. “I love this town and I admire its tenacity.”
Cullen is no stranger to the issues of this region. He currently acts as MP representing Northwestern B.C. and has since 2004. “I’ve been door knocking, reaching out to neighbours to find out the real issues, to find out what really matters to them,” Cullen said.
So what were the issues that seemed to matter most?
Questions surrounding infrastructure, free trade, deportation, environmental issues particularly LNG oil projects, refugees, voter turnout, senate reformation and evidence-based decision making were among the issues discussed.
Nesbitt was kept busy defending the current conservative government and Layton and Cullen were ready to offer their political aspirations as each question surfaced.
Andrew Wheatley, president of the Fort St. James Chamber of Commerce thought the questions asked covered a wide scope. “It was a great opportunity to exchange and to hear each party’s stance and position,” Wheatley said.
Some left and some stayed in hopes of further engaging the candidates after the meeting. Richard Sutton, 26, was curious about how the candidates can best represent the community as well as younger voters.
“I wanted to be informed, see who’s in our riding and make sure that they are actually going to represent us,” Sutton said. “I feel more educated.”
For more information about the candidates and their parties visit: http://tylernesbitt.conservative.ca/
To make sure you are registered for the election on October 19 visit: elections.ca