June 29, 2022

LETTER: Calling debates “fake” irritates forum organizer

Candidates should ‘represent democratic processes and respond to the various concerns and questions of their potential voters,’ says letter writer

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] Please include your phone number and daytime address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter in response to a letter, published May 29, titles, “The member has the right to skip false excuses for a debate”.

As one of the coordinators of the Just Recovery Simcoe (JRS) Regional Digital Debates held in May for all Simcoe Provincial Ridings, I am writing to respond to the assumptions contained in this letter.

First, I question their assumption that the Chamber of Commerce is the only societal entity worthy of hosting community debate.

Society is not only made up of companies.

There are other local groups curious about the candidates’ plans for things like climate change, social supports and environmental stewardship.

These are important, modern topics that deserve to be addressed.

Our JRS Debate Series has been initiated and supported by local groups dedicated to things like housing, youth and the environment, keen to hear the candidates’ opinions on things like climate, environment, issues social, affordability.

We had almost perfect Liberal, Green and NDP turnout in all five ridings. PC candidates were invited but none chose to attend.

(Candidates’ responses are still available for viewing on our website https://justrecoverysimcoe.ca/)

The author of the letter suggests that it was a good decision on the part of the PC candidates because the debate was “biased”.

Our questions, posted ahead of time and still on our website, covered topics such as housing rights and climate change policy, and if you don’t like these questions or don’t appreciate these concerns, you may feel that these are irrelevant or “wrong” discussion topics.

When someone accuses these topics of being “fake,” it sounds like another way of saying you don’t like them. And this is for you.

But maybe other people like them? Maybe other people in the community are very concerned about these things and they are not phony and unrelated issues at all?

Perhaps having more than one debate allows a diversity of groups to raise a diversity of issues, thus providing an opportunity to cultivate a diversity of solutions to our many societal problems?

Then let’s look at the hypothesis that knocking on doors and talking to individuals one-on-one is a better way to communicate with the public… which, if you take that mathematically, you know can’t be true .

A debate, especially a digitally recorded debate that can be viewed by anyone, anywhere, anytime, goes far beyond a few doorways and brings together the views of all candidates, in a single forum, which is great for cross-voter comparison.

Door-to-door, while valuable communication, does not readily allow for wider dissemination of plans and policies or cross-comparison of candidate positions.

By turning down so much local debate, local Conservative candidates have missed a great opportunity to connect with their constituents and clarify their position on some very important and very important areas, on issues that are deeply relevant to many Simcoe residents.

Ideally, candidates should have a diversity of communication channels with their constituents.

If one claims to want to be a representative of democracy, one must in fact represent democratic processes and engage with the various concerns and questions of one’s potential constituents.

Julie Johnson
Gold Medonte