Independent candidates running for the Surrey South and Surrey-White Rock constituencies have taken issue with next week’s “all-candidates” forum planned by Peninsula Homeless to Housing, because not all candidates were invited.
“I believe it’s called an all-candidates meeting. That means all candidates,” Surrey-White Rock independent Tom Bryant told Peace Arch News Monday.
“Independent doesn’t mean you’re excluded from the nomination process… I had to go through a lot of rigorous Elections BC rules to get to this point and I don’t think it’s fair in the democratic process that these people would exclude me.”
Bryant said his campaign manager has attempted to make contact with the meeting organizers to allow him to participate.
Other candidates who were not invited commented on an online PAN news article April 10 about the all-candidates meeting.
Surrey South independent Peter Njenga left a comment saying he’s been fighting for affordable housing and homelessness for more than seven years.
“Voters should be given an opportunity to know what I think and what I stand for,” he writes.
“How can a forum be called all-candidates forum and then exclude some candidates? If they want to invite only the major parties, they should call it ‘major party candidates forum.’”
Surrey South independent Gary Hee left a comment saying he’s campaigning by promoting a fundraising drive to benefit the Surrey Memorial Hospital and Peace Arch Hospital.
Surrey South candidate Fabiola Cecilia Palomino, who’s running with the Your Political Party of BC, left a comment saying the forum’s topic is important to her.
“We, as a party, have many plans to change the homelessness’ situation. Is there any discrimination on this event?” she writes.
PH2H chairman Rick Bayer told PAN last week that only candidates represented by a party that currently has a seat in Victoria were invited to the all-candidates forum. He said the reasoning for that was to hold the party accountable after the election, and for logistical reasons.
PH2H founding member Pat Petrala this week reinforced Bayer’s comments.
“It’s because the likelihood of them winning and forming government is modest,” Petrala said Monday. “Because we’ve got the riding split in half now, the time allocation for responses will go very quickly,”
Independent candidates are welcome to arrive early and set up an information table, she said.
“We set up at six, they can help us lift the chairs and put the tables out, and then 6:30 the public is welcome to come… That’s as accommodating as we can be at this time,” Petrala said.
Bryant said he plans to attend.
“I’m not angry, I’m not upset. It’s the political process that they used, but I’m going to be there one way or another,” he said. “I want to hear the questions that are asked, and if they want to come outside and ask me questions about the same thing, I don’t have a problem. I’m not out there to jump up and down and scream and say ‘Oh poor me’; that’s not my style.”
The forum takes place April 25, 7 p.m., at Gracepoint Church (3487 King George Hwy.).
All provincial candidates had until 1 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday) to file nomination papers.