All-Candidates’ Debate 2017: A Family Night Out

The littles and I attended the Shawnigan Residents Association (SRA)-sponsored all-candidates’ meeting at Shawnigan Lake School last night. The biggest little’s class is putting on a mock election in a couple of weeks so this event was educational for all of us. 

The performance hall at the school was packed, which is not surprising given the level of political engagement we’ve seen from that community these past few years. It was the usual format with an introduction from each of the six candidates, followed by three questions from SRA, then questions from the floor.

There were many, many questions from the floor, which extended the meeting but was worth it. A clear indication of the entertainment value of this event is the littles’ insistence that we stay until the end, even after whispering in my ear an hour in that they were hungry.

Some highlights:

  • Sonia “It’s Time” Furstenau rocks my socks. I haven’t seen a candidate as prepared for the role of MLA as she is. Also, I may have identified another #bcpoli drinking game. Sonia has two public-speaking modes:
    1. The Orator: In this mode, she takes on a slow, philosophical tone that draws me in and makes me believe anything is possible.
    2. The Actionist: In this mode, she stands a little taller, leans forward, and in a firm tone tells us what needs to happen and how she will do it (or die trying).
      Game-ified: One shot for Orator; two for the Actionist.


  • The best thing that happened to Ian Morrison was the NDP equity mandate, in response to which he left the party and is running as an independent. Outside the confines of party line, Ian is having the time of his life, or so it appears. There was one moment I noticed he was smiling as if there was nowhere else in the world he should be. I believe it. He is ready to represent this valley, and he would do a good job. If I wasn’t #withher, I would be #withhim. The littles agreed.


  • Steve Housser is one brave cat. Unlike other BC Liberal candidates, Steve shows up at all-candidates’ meetings where, especially in Shawnigan Lake’s case, he represents a government some people no longer trust. Even in the face of boos and hisses, Steve remained composed and gracious. Steve’s position on LNG was particularly unpopular, but I agree with it. He doesn’t think Bamberton is a good location, but he’s not willing to say no until we have all the information. That’s the best approach to making all decisions and I was happy to hear someone say so.

Note: Dear public, if you want all the candidates to show up at all-candidates’ meetings, you must stop booing and hissing. If you don’t like what they are saying, don’t vote for them, but for the love of all things, treat them with respect. Here’s why: the (very!) few brave folks in the room who are considering running for government will think twice about it. I know so many good people who won’t run for just that reason—they hate the public shaming. Having thick skin is not a trait that is relevant in a collaborative and deliberative government, thus it is not criterion upon which we should base our votes. Stop testing it. Rant over (for now).


  • Newcomer Samuel Lockhart was refreshing in his refrain to resolving issues with logic and common sense, “It’s that simple.” He was spot-on in his estimation that helping small businesses is the key to economic development here. I said to the girls on the drive home that in a few years’ time, Samuel is going to show up to an all-candidates’ meeting fully informed and a force to be reckoned with. To which the biggest little said, “I think I’ll run for local government first to get practice.” (At which point my heart exploded with pride.)


  • Lori Iannidinardo is a confident and composed elected official as CVRD Director for the Cowichan Bay area, but last night something seemed off. She read prepared answers from cue cards, which was unfortunate because she is natural and eloquent when speaking off the cuff. I remember her speech for the CVRD chair in our first year and was convinced she would do an excellent job if elected. In fact, I placed a bet with City of Duncan Councillor John Horgan that she would win (she and I both lost, dammit). I have great friends who are NDP and Lori supporters so hopefully last night was a blip.


  • Eden Haythornthwaite’s advocacy for fair and rich public education remains strong as ever. She’s an unapologetic socialist who is as engaging and forthright as she was when she was a school trustee. Eden adds colour and energy to the dais, and she presents her ideas with great passion.

The next all-candidates’ meeting is April 25 at 7 p.m. at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. This time, there is no better way than to attend that event to help you decide who to vote for.


  1. Thank you for your review, I agree with with Brian F.Colgate, excellent coverage and comments wrt the booing. Your girls are fortunate to have such an engaged mother raising them with experiences and confidence to take on this ever challenging world.

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