There was some mud flying during the Nechako Lakes all candidates forum in Fort St. James.
Conservative candidate Dan Brooks was going after Liberal MLA John Rustad with fierce enthusiasm. Brooks was repeatedly bringing up Rustad’s choice not to vote on the first round of a bill Rustad had stood up and opposed on parks.
Rustad voted against specific sections of the bill in a later vote, and was the sole dissenter, but Brooks was not satisfied with this answer.
Susanne Skidmore-Hewlett was asked some pointed questions by Rustad on NDP plans for infrastructure currently in the works, and some NDP platform questions.
Rustad was being singled out at times by the audience as well, with some tough questions on everything from education and local health care issues to Enbridge’s proposed pipeline.
Then there was the embarrassing newspaper article references, getting mud in the face of this reporter. A question referred to a response Rustad gave to a letter to the editor which asked him about the Northern Gateway pipeline in which he responded he would support it if it could meet certain criteria, including those laid out by Premier Christy Clark. They then asked him what had changed given the recent profile published in the Caledonia Courier which said he supported the pipeline.
Rustad deflected the question and instead threw a bit of mud at the newspaper (the profile was from an Omineca Express candidate profile series published nearly one month ago and given the time since its original publication and the fact the Vanderhoof editor did the interview, it was believed correct).
Skidmore-Hewlett did not throw back a lot, but she did take a few shots at the Liberal record on things like forestry and she definitely took a few shots from Rustad herself.
Essentially, the room was a bit messy when all was said and done and it felt like most of us had some mud on our faces.
The only candidate to emerge clean from the two-hour event, was Green Party candidate Colin Hamm.
Hamm, probably considered not worth targeting by those in the room who were throwing mud, came out shining as a worthy opponent, from a party most had likely not previously put much thought into.
Hamm’s composure and compassionate approach did seem to have him walking out of the forum with a few admirers.
But then, perhaps it is easy to stay clean when a party has not yet been invited into the mud pit.
If only the event was televised, it would have been worth a watch for those not in attendance.