A Surrey MLA hopeful is calling the format of an upcoming all-candidates forum “quite unfair.”
Thursday (Oct. 8), the Surrey Board of Trade is hosting a virtual business dialogue for the 32 provincial election candidates in Surrey’s nine ridings.
SBoT CEO Anita Huberman told the Now-Leader the respondents will be “placed per riding by alphabetical order as per their party;” Conservatives, Green Party, Liberals and NDP.
Huberman said this “doesn’t have anything to do with not being democratic,” adding that it’s a “democratic opportunity to hear what the other candidates’ perspectives are on different issues in advance of the election.”
“It has to do with things being simplified and organized for the candidates – and to ensure that everything runs on time, especially as we are not in a person environment, but in a digital environment. Everyone will have closing remarks, and I will as moderator call each person’s name out in alphabetical order by last name.”
However, Surrey-Guildford Green Party candidate Jodi Murphy said this format gives the NDP candidates a chance to respond and rebut.
“There’s no question that answering last gives you that advantage,” Murphy said.
Murphy said she also ran in the 2017 provincial election, and took part in a SBoT event, and this wasn’t an issue then.
She said she knows it’s a very “challenging” event to host and organize, especially in a digital environment, but it’s “certainly not an impossible thing to do” to rearrange the order between questions.
“I think as a non-partisan organization, it’s important to not be biased,” said Murphy.
But Huberman said the problem is being in a digital environment.
She said “to scroll through, to unmute” between each respondent would be “humanly impossible, unless we were to hire another event company which is a significant cost to us.”
Huberman said she “understands where (Murphy) is coming from” and the board of trade looked at other options, “but we hope the candidates can appreciate we are doing the best we possibly can.”
Asked if she thinks Murphy’s criticism of the format is fair, Huberman said: “It’s not a fair criticism.”
Voters go to the polls Oct. 24.