NDP candidate Wayne Stetski says that in the 2011 federal election MP David Wilks did not attend all-candidates meetings in Kimberley, Creston, Revelstoke, Invermere, and Cranbrook, and that this amounted to a 43 per cent attendance rate.
In an email to the other three parties and the media, he challenged Wilks to do better this time around.
“He needs to show respect for the people,” Stetski told the Star. “All-candidate meetings provide an opportunity for the public to see all of the candidates at once.”
Wilks, contacted by the Star, said, “The NDP candidate can regurgitate issues from 2011 if he likes. I am living in 2015 and will continue to work for the constituency as I have for the past four years and will not concern myself with what happened then.”
Stetski has proposed that the parties form a committee consisting of a campaign worker from each party that would coordinate the dates of all candidates meetings in eight communities to ensure that all candidates can attend.
Wilks says he’s not interested.
“If the NDP candidate wishes to concern himself with the debate schedule he can do that,” he said. “My focus is to serve my constituents.”
Asked about the usefulness of all-candidates meetings, Wilks said, “For the most part, those that come to all-candidate forums have made up their minds who they are voting for, and as a result of that, the candidates normally know who is coming to the mic, what the question will be, and who it is directed toward. That is what you can expect from the all-candidates forums.”
Liberal candidate Don Johnson’s campaign office has responded to Stetski with an email stating, “We welcome this request by the NDP to coordinate debates. We hope that a timetable can be arranged that will accommodate the Conservative candidate’s schedule.”
Green Party candidate Bill Green also accepted the invitation to work collaboratively to organize dates for the meetings. He said there should be meetings in 11 communities to ensure coverage of the riding.