Small town charm makes appearance at debate

Friendliness, community spirit on display in Fort St. James.

Right from the onset it was clear that the all candidates forum in Fort St. James had something that was missing from other elections: friendship and togetherness.

As citizens and candidates piled into Music Makers Hall, candidate Kris Nielsen approached candidate Dave Birdi to express concern over seeing one of Birdi’s candidacy signs had been overturned (either by a vandal or merely the wind). Nielsen told Birdi she wanted to make sure he knew so he could fix the overturned sign.

This is so out of place to someone who is used to watching elections as hostile and frigid as the recent Toronto municipal election. It was refreshing to see some warmness between political rivals.

As an Ontarian and former Torontonian, the Toronto municipal election is indicative to me of what we’ve come to expect from politics: attack ads, backstabbing, hostility and even racism.

But here in Fort St. James, the sense of togetherness and community overcame that. It’s characteristic of what makes places like Fort St. James appealing; a feeling of oneness and friendship even in a realm as unforgiving and self-centred as politics.

That small town charm can easily be exemplified by Nielsen and Birdi’s exchange.

Say what you will about the nature of politics, it’s a dirty game, but every once and awhile you see small moments of decency in an arena as indecent as politics can be.


In the end, candidates came together for a photo, putting arms around each other and laughing. It was nice to see a community that can rise above petty squabbling even in a forum that is designed to produce squabbling.