Federal candidates get their day 

All-candidates meeting planned for Jan. 19

Want to know where any of our federal candidates stand on the issues important to you?

Whistler will have a chance to see the candidates in action on Thursday, Jan. 19 in an all-candidates debate sponsored by the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, the Whistler Forum for Dialogue, the Association of Whistler Area Residents for the Environment, and One Whistler.

The meeting will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at Whistler Secondary School.

All five candidates – Blair Wilson, Liberal Party of Canada; John Weston, Conservative Party of Canada; Judith Wilson, New Democratic Party of Canada; Silvaine Zimmermann, Green Party of Canada; and Anne Jamieson, Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada – have confirmed that they will be in Whistler for the meeting.

The Whistler event is significant because it’s the last all-candidates meeting scheduled in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding before the general election on Jan. 23. Other all-candidates meetings are in West Vancouver, Bowen Island, Powell River, Gibsons and at the Sea to Sky Hotel in Squamish on Jan. 18.

According to moderator William Roberts of the Whistler Forum, each candidate will have an opportunity to make a one-minute opening and closing statement, and will answer questions from leaders of the four host organizations and from the floor. Each host organization will have about 12 minutes to ask themed questions, and after the first hour the panel will be opened up to questions from the floor.

Roberts said each host organization has a general theme. For the Whistler Forum, the topics will include democratic renewal, public participation, good government and the issue of leadership.

"Those are the questions I want to talk about, and the questions will be focused around those topics," said Roberts. "For the Chamber, I would imagine the questions will focus on economic development, maybe taxes. For AWARE it will be environmental issues and land use, possibly First Nations. For One Whistler I’m not sure yet, but it could be tourism, intergovernmental relations, that kind of thing.

"It’s similar to the English language leadership debates."

When the floor is opened up, questions will be limited to 30 seconds, and the responses to one or two minutes depending on the number of candidates answering each question.

Admission is by donation. The hosting groups are contributing $50 each to help cover part of the cost of the facility rental and sound system, and donations will provide the rest of the money.

If you haven’t registered to vote or received a card from Elections Canada, you can register online to save time at www.elections.ca .

You can also register in person at advance voting opportunities or election day with two pieces of I.D. including one piece of photo I.D. All Canadian citizens aged 18 or older on election day are eligible to vote.

You can also vote by mail or in person at an Elections Canada office if you apply for a special ballot before Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. Snowbirds – Canadians seniors living in places like Florida and California – are being encouraged to take advantage of the mail-in ballot.

The Whistler polling station on Jan. 23 is at the Telus Whistler Conference Centre, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Advance polling is also available at the conference centre on Jan. 13, 14 and 16 from noon to 8 p.m.

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