Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?

Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?

Selfie taken by Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May, left, and Mandolyn Jonasson having fun at a women’s conference in Vancouver

Was there corruption in the Courtenay-Alberni Green Party nomination process?

By George Le Masurier

Questions of impropriety at the Green Party of Canada’s nomination meeting in June erupted this week when one of the candidates went public with allegations that the vote was corrupted.

In a post to the Comox Valley Politics Facebook page, Mandolyn Jonasson, who had sought the party’s nomination, said the Greens’ nomination process was tainted and because of that party Leader Elizabeth May personally recommended a re-vote.

Jonasson, a Qualicum Beach business owner who was solicited by the party to seek the nomination told Decafnation on Saturday that at least two confirmed party members received double ballots in their voting envelopes at the nomination meeting, which was held during the Courtenay-Alberni riding’s annual general meeting on June 15.

She says organizers did not announce an exact vote count in contravention of party procedures nor did they keep any record of results. That has made it impossible to verify that the number of counted ballots equalled the number of members at the party’s Annual General Meeting, or the margin of victory.

The ballot box wasn’t continually monitored throughout the voting process, nor did candidates have representatives present during the count, according to Jonasson.

Jonasson was told she lost the nomination to Wood by just four votes.

But it wasn’t the mistakes made during the nomination voting that concern Jonasson the most.

“Mistakes can happen. It’s how you rectify and handle them afterwards,” she told Decafnation. “It’s the fact that they (GPC officials) were complicit in acknowledging the mistakes and then suppressing it and trying to suppress me or anyone else in the party.”

When Jonasson tried to appeal the nomination results, she and others were advised by officials of the party’s electoral district association (EDA) to direct her appeal to Liberty Bradshaw, local EDA president.

But she later received notice from the GPC national office saying the EDA officials were confused about the appeal protocol and that she would have to appeal through the Green Party’s own ombudsperson, which she did.

The Green Party’s national Executive Director Emily McMillan told Decafnation that Jonasson’s appeal was rejected because “it was not brought to our attention within the time frame (72 hours) or to the right people (Green Party ombuds).”

“These were inexperienced volunteers (at the EDA nomination meeting), McMillan told Decafnation in a telephone interview. “Doing the best they could.”

In a follow-up email, McMillan said the party determined that minor errors in the conduct of the meeting did not invalidate or have any conclusive impact on the outcome of the vote, and that Sean Wood is the properly nominated GPC candidate for Courtenay—Alberni.

“Ms. Jonasson was provided with a detailed report to this effect. This was done despite the fact that Ms. Jonasson’s complaint itself was technically invalid as it was submitted six weeks following the nomination meeting — well outside of the 72 hour window allowed for appeals. Ms. Jonasson was unable to justify this delay,” McMillan said.

But the party did an investigation anyway. A report of that investigation from Federal Green Party President Jean-Luc Cooke has not been released to the public. Jonasson has a copy but is bound by a non-disclosure agreement to maintain its confidentiality.

GPC official Rosie Emery initially told Decafnation that Jonasson had no non-disclosure agreement. But Christina Winter, campaign advisor for Wood, indicated there was an NDA.

Jonasson maintains that Elizabeth May told her in person during an Equal Voice conference in Vancouver that she recommended a revote in the Courtenay-Alberni riding and that Wood should step down. But the party leader also said she couldn’t interfere because the GPC is a bottom-up, not a top-down organization.

Wood has not responded to several attempts for comment on this story.

An email sent by Kate Storey on July 25 to all members of the party’s electoral district association, including Don Munroe who resigned over the nomination irregularities, and Sean Wood, urged the candidate to step down.

“I can’t tell the EDA what to do … but, in my opinion, if the candidate wants to improve his public image and get the support of the whole EDA behind him, then he might want to step down and ask for a new nomination meeting. It would clear away the uncertainty and would help his campaign,” Storey said.

Cumberland Councillor Vicky Brown, who attended the meeting, recalls that after members voted, the ballot box was taken into a room, but that there was no call for scrutineers.

“I thought the vote was handled very loosely, not secure at all. There could have easily been several people with double (or more) ballots in their envelopes,” Brown told Decafnation. “Because there were no numbers given, and I don’t know if anyone counted the total voters in the room, it’s difficult to know whether the vote count was accurate.”

Brown was one of many who emailed the EDA afterward to ask these questions and received no response.

“Because of this, the nomination process was suspect to me and I was left with an uneasy feeling about the whole thing,” Brown said. “I’m disappointed that the riding association couldn’t find a way to resolve this in a transparent way.”

At one point, on July 20, Jonasson received notice from the Courtenay-Alberni EDA that there would be a revote and an official went so far as to ask if she’d be willing to run a second time. But that was never brought up again, Jonasson said.

Jonasson, who still supports Green Party policies, said her reason for going public now was not personal, but because she cares about democracy.

“I’m not going to be bullied,” she said. “I know I’m martyring myself, they’re going to try and discredit me. But there’s a lot of people who saw this and know about it but don’t want to put themselves on the line.”








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Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Recent youth-led climate strikes in the Comox Valley indicate that climate change has become an issue in the federal election, but Conservative Byron Horner has declined an invitation to participate in an Oct. 4 candidates forum on the topic

Courtenay-Alberni candidates address climate crisis in forum

Courtenay-Alberni candidates address climate crisis in forum

Candidates from left, incumbent Gord Johns, Barb Biley, Sean Wood and Jonah Gowans  /  George Le Masurier photos

Courtenay-Alberni candidates address climate crisis in forum

By George Le Masurier

At the only federal election forum in the Courtenay-Alberni riding focused strictly on the climate crisis, four of the five candidates showed up and answered questions from a panel of four and an audience of about 300 voters.

Incumbent NDP MP Gord Johns, Liberal Jonah Gowans, Green Sean Wood and Barb Biley representing the Marxist-Leninist Party spent nearly two hours on stage at the Florence Filberg Centre Oct. 4 in a deep dive into what actions the next government should take to fight climate change.

Conservative candidate Byron Horner refused to attend, and offered no explanation for his absence.

The candidates who did attend found agreement on some issues such as the need to create equality for the most vulnerable as Canada’s transitions to a greener economy, lowering the voting age to 16 and ending federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.

But Wood said the other parties were just “handing out gifts” during the campaign by suddenly promising to end to oil and gas subsidies. He credited the Green Party and its leader Elizabeth May — “the most ethical and trustworthy leader” of all the parties — for getting the topics into the national conversation.

Johns detailed $48 billion in tax breaks and other gifts to corporations that his party would invest in green energy technology.

He also criticized Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau for promising in 2015 to cut fossil fuel subsidies but failing to follow through.

“The NDP put forward a motion (to end subsidies) six months ago, and the Liberals voted no. We proposed declaring a climate emergency, and the Liberals said no. Then they tabled their own (climate emergency) bill and the day after that approved purchasing the TransMountain pipeline,” he said.

That just shows “who pulls the strings,” according to Biley.

“Decisions aren’t made in Ottawa, they’re implemented in Ottawa. They are made by fossil fuel companies,” she said. “How can you declare a climate emergency and then buy a pipeline.”

Wood said government has failed to act more quickly on climate issues because the major political parties “whip” their MPs to vote as their party executive tells them to vote. And he took a shot at the provincial NDP.

“The NDP promised no Site C, no LNG, no fracking, that they would get fish farms out,” he said, but they didn’t do it. “The Green Party doesn’t whip its elected members. The constituents are our bosses. That’s how it should be.”

In her closing statement at the forum, Biley followed that idea by saying small parties raised the level of political discussion because the major parties break promises “over and over again, and just expect us to suck it up.”

“We should follow the example of youth in hitting the streets, of women taking back the night, of our coastal forest workers refusing to take concessions and assert our own plan for climate action. Empower yourself now,” she said.

She said Canada must transform its political system so it genuinely represents the people, not the parties.

Johns said in his first term as the Courtenay-Alberni incumbent MP, he has fought for the coast,” and brought conservation and other climate issues to the conversation in Parliament.

“Sixty percent of our communities are progressive. But without electoral reform, we split the vote,” he said. “Because of that, Conservatives can win this riding.”

Earlier Johns received the largest audience response of the night when he said, while addressing how previous Conservative governments gutted the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, “The first thing we should do is not let the Conservatives govern again.”

John said he was one of about 30 MPs of the 356 total in the House of Commons who attend an All-Party Caucus.

“No one party will solve the climate crisis,” he said. “It’s going to take everyone.”

Wood said his party’s polling shows support for candidates in the riding was neck-and-neck, and that the Conservatives weren’t as strong as “everybody else.”

“Don’t vote against something, vote for who you want,” he said.

Liberal Jonah Gowans said no political party has all the best ideas. The Liberal Party of Canada has a history of taking the best ideas from wherever and adopting them.

The forum was a collaboration of the Cumberland Forest Society, Project Watershed, K’omoks First Nations, Climate Strike Canada, Dogwood, the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership and the United Church.

The assembled panel that asked the first questions of the candidates included Nalan Goosen representing youth of the Comox Valley, Celia Laval of the faith community, Caelan Mclean of K’omoks First Nations and Don Castledden and David Stapley of the Conservation Partnership.

Disclosure: The author moderated the climate forum.



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Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Recent youth-led climate strikes in the Comox Valley indicate that climate change has become an issue in the federal election, but Conservative Byron Horner has declined an invitation to participate in an Oct. 4 candidates forum on the topic

Candidates to speak at 4th Person’s Day Lunch on Oct. 18

Candidates to speak at 4th Person’s Day Lunch on Oct. 18

Submitted photo

Candidates to speak at 4th Person’s Day Lunch on Oct. 18

By Guest Writer

All Courtenay-Alberni and North Island Powell River candidates in the federal
election will attend the 4th Annual Persons Day Lunch on Oct. 18.

“The lunch celebrates three milestones along the journey to equity for Canadian women. It honours the leadership of the Famous Five who fought for this status, winning the battle in 1929. Some women attending this lunch were not legally a “person” when born,” co-organizer Betty Donalson said.

Candidates will respond to a pre-question: If elected, what would you do to reduce gender inequities in Canada?

Then, candidates will have an opportunity to present their platforms, respond to a general question and answer period, meet voters and distribute election maaterials.

Both women candidates reside in NIPR: Rachel Blaney (NDP incumbent) and Shelley Downey (Conservative). The five male candidates include Mark de Bruijn (Green Party) and Peter Schwarzhoff (Liberal) in the NIPR. Courtenay-Alberni candidates include Gord Johns (NDP incumbent; Bryon Horner (Conservative) and Sean Wood (Green Party).

Women were acknowledged as “persons” in Canada approximately a decade after most had been granted the right to vote. This status permits greater participation in public life including appointments to the senate and senior judicial levels.

However, Canada has a low global gender equity ranking, and in the Comox Valley financial wage inequities have increased since 2010. According to Amnesty International (Canada) other acute issues include: lack of affordable housing, skyrocketing child-care costs, precarious work and low wages, a lack of personal autonomy, persistently high rates of gender-based violence and reduced funding for women’s organizations.

Lunch is buffet style at the Best Western Hotel at 12 noon ($25). This year, for the first time, advance tickets are available. A limited number of tickets will be sold at the door. Laughing Oyster Bookstore and committee organizers have had a good response; approximately 100 attendees are anticipated. Donation in table teapots help offset overhead expenses. Small table settings provide opportunities to talk informally with candidates and other attendees.

“This lunch is an opportunity to highlight women’s issues prior to an important election, and to learn more about our shared unique “herstory”. Attendees will leave more informed about gender-based issues and perhaps become more engaged in voting a few days later,” Donalson said.



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Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Sept. 27 climate action march through downtown Courtenay  /  Submitted photo

Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

By George Le Masurier

Friday’s youth-led climate strikes in the Comox Valley were the largest events of their kind in living memory and a reminder that climate change has become the central issue in the federal election.

But maybe not for Conservative candidate Byron Horner.

Horner, who is running for the Conservative Party of Canada in the riding of Courtenay-Alberni, has declined an invitation to attend the all-candidates forum ‘Canada and the Climate Crisis‘ happening on Friday, Oct. 4 in Courtenay.

“As a nation experiencing rates of warming double the global average, Canadians are facing huge and growing challenges. Canada is one of the highest per-capita emitters in the G20 — only seven countries around the globe put more carbon into the atmosphere than Canadians. And, yet, this past week’s climate strikes tell us that people are concerned,” Dave Mills, one of the forum’s organizers, told Decafnation.

Historically, Conservatives have taken center stage in the defense of Canada’s environment. The desire to protect what we have and to take responsibility for one’s actions are conservative moral imperatives.

“Horner’s snub could be tied to his party’s connection and long-standing support for the oil industry. Voters should consider whether a candidate unwilling to even talk about climate action is capable of tackling this crisis as an MP,” Mills said.

Find out what the NDP, Liberal and Green candidates have to say about our climate reality. Join the conversation at 6:30 pm on Friday, October 4 at the Filberg main conference hall in Courtenay.

Sponsors for the forum include the Comox Valley Conservation Partnership, Comox Valley Youth Environmental Action, Cumberland Community Forest Society, Dogwood, K’omoks First Nation, Project Watershed, Unitarian Fellowship and World Community.

Disclosure: Decafnation will moderate this forum




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Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni

Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni

NDP incumbent MP Gord Johns is seeking a second term on Oct. 21

Gord Johns touts record federal investment in Courtenay-Alberni

By George Le Masurier

Gord Johns, the incumbent MP for the Courtenay-Alberni riding, went to Ottawa in 2015 believing that members of minority parties could get things done in the Canadian Parliament. And, he says, he proved it was true.

During Johns first term as a New Democratic Party MP, he passed two motions with unanimous support. One that benefited 40,000 Canadian veterans and another that benefited the world’s oceans. He helped bring $100 million to his riding for community infrastructure projects.

And, he says, he has been a voice for indigenous people on the national stage. He secured funding for a coordinator of the new Coast Guard Auxiliary Indigenous Peoples program that will employ 10 First Nations people located in Tofino.

Johns helped seure $375,000 for a new art gallery on Hornby Island, where 40 percent of residents make their living from the arts. And he used the media to shine a light on the derelict and abandoned vessels in Deep Bay, something the former Conservative MP John Duncan promised for years but didn’t do.

He played a key role in securing funds to restore the Sproat Lake water bombers with a new technology that enables them to fight fires at night. And he helped Pacific Coast University access $200,000 to fund a return-to-work pilot program that could ultimately expand to benefit 1.2 million Canadians who have been hurt on the job.

“We have lots of little communities in this riding, and everybody counts,” John said. “The mayors and councils know who’s been helping and working collaboratively for their benefit.”

And if the NDP hold the balance of power in a new Liberal minority government on Oct. 21, as he expects, Johns says he will have the opportunity to do even more for the Courtenay-Alberni riding.


First term accomplishments

Johns, who was born, raised and educated (Camosun College) on the Island, has served on the Tofino district council and as executive director of the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. He has owned and operated several businesses, including EcoEverything that specialized in sustainable products.

He is the only federal election candidate in Courtenay-Alberni who has held public office, led a nonprofit, run small businesses or has lived on the Island for a lifetime.

And, he is the first MP in 25 years to have two private member’s motions/bills pass in a single parliamentary session.

In 2016, Johns first motion restored $372 million in lapsed Veterans Affairs funding to improve services and benefits for veterans seeking medical care. The MP says there are about 40,000 veterans’ medical claims that haven’t been addressed. But reallocating those unspent dollars will clear the backlog.

The next year, Johns introduced a motion for a national strategy on plastics pollution that was passed in 2018 after months of discussions. His motion ultimately led to the Liberals pledge of a national ban on single-use plastics by 2021.

If he’s returned to parliament, Johns promises to ensure that a Liberal majority or minority government will follow through on that promise.

Johns was one of 25 federal candidates endorsed by GreenPAC, a nonpartisan nonprofit supporting environmental leaders from all major Canadian parties.


Conservatives failed the riding

Johns sees the Courtenay-Alberni riding as a contest between the NDP and the Conservatives. That gives voters a clear choice, he says, between a candidate who is connected to the wealthiest people who dropped into the riding from West Vancouver and himself, a local candidate who has proven he’s on the side of the people and the communities.

“While I was helping 40,000 veterans, by contrast the Conservatives had cut 1,000 jobs and closed nine offices in an attack on the veterans community,” he told Decafnation. “While the local Conservative candidate calls my bills irrelevant, his party leader, Andrew Scheer, voted for it.”

Likewise, Johns says Coastal BC needs $500 million for salmon restoration and habitat enhancement, which is part of the NDP platform. But when the Conservatives had power they cut $100 million out of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and “gutted it.”

“Now our salmon are in crisis. The Fraser River return was the lowest in history,” he said. “We talk about the devastation that forest fires cause in the north, well, this rises to that level for coastal people. It’s our food, our culture, our way of life.”

The Conservatives 97 members in the last parliament rose to argue against the carbon tax 748 times in question period, he says, but never once in favor of helping Pacific salmon.

Johns rose 652 times during his first four years, compared to former MP James Lunney’s 660 times in 15 years.

“I rose to mention Nuu-chah-nulth 48 times, Lunney rose zero,” he said. “Rising to speak in the house gives a voice to the needs and concerns of people in the riding. Under the Conservatives they had no voice. They were not represented.”

The NDP, he says, are pledging a public dental plan and pharmacare, while the Conservatives promise deep tax cuts.

“It’s a clear choice,” he said.


Predicts no pipeline

Johns is also confident the TransMountain pipeline won’t be built.

“The opposition of coastal people is too strong. Local people always win,” he said. “Justin Trudeau has underestimated the will of coastal people.”

Johns wants to address housing issues next. In the 1970 and 1980s, there was 10 percent of housing available at non-market rates. Today it’s only four percent. In Europe, it’s 30 percent. The NDP has pledged to build 500,000 housing units to get Canada back to the 10 percent level.

And he says the NDP will fight the inequality that has grown under recent governments, and inject fairness. Their platform includes a one percent tax on every million dollars of wealth over $20 million, a plan that would raise $70 billion over 10 years.

“We’re asking them to pay a little bit more se we can do pharmacare, dental care and fund early childhood education,” he said. “We need to pull together to make our nation work for everyone.

This article has been updated.







Friday, October 11, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Monday, October 14, 2019

Or before Oct. 15 at the Elections Canada office at 2435 Mansfield Drive
Courtenay BC V9N2M2



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More Politics

Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Recent youth-led climate strikes in the Comox Valley indicate that climate change has become an issue in the federal election, but Conservative Byron Horner has declined an invitation to participate in an Oct. 4 candidates forum on the topic

Liberal Jonah Gowans represents new gen of political junkies

Liberal Jonah Gowans represents new gen of political junkies

Liberal Jonah Gowans says he will run a positive campaign  /  George Le Masurier photo

Liberal Jonah Gowans represents new gen of political junkies

By George Le Masurier

Twenty six-year-old Liberal Party Candidate Jonah Gowans started his political career at age 8.

Resisting his parent’s attempt to put him to bed one night, Gowans says his exasperated mother asked him, “Who do you think you are? You’re not the prime minister, you know.”

So the next day, he did an Internet search to find out what a ‘prime minister’ was and that kick started his early obsession with politics.

The federal Liberals tapped the Powell-River native to run in the Courtenay-Alberni riding. Until recently, Gowans has lived in Victoria where he works as an assistant for five BC Liberal Party MLAs.

Gowans couldn’t say why the federal party reached out to him, but he’s grateful for the opportunity to make his first run at public office.

Asked why they went outside the riding for a candidate, Liberal riding association President Ken Richardson said the party’s local board of directors believed Gowans would make a good representative in Ottawa.

“Jonah was keen to be a candidate in this riding, and he was the only candidate in Courtenay-Alberni approved by the Liberal Party’s Green Light Committee,” Richardson told Decafnation.

A new generation

As a self-described political junkie with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Ottawa, Gowans says it’s time for his generation of future leaders to do their part.

“I consider my age an asset, not a threat,” he told Decafnation this week. “We’re a generation with new ideas for the party on how to get things done, and I have as much or more experience on to move legislation as the other candidates.”

Gowans joined the Young Liberals of Canada organization at age 18 after spending time volunteering for various political parties, including the Greens, NDP and federal Liberals. He worked on federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna’s successful campaign in 2015 and volunteered regularly on Parliament Hill before moving to Victoria to take a position at the BC Legislature.

Although he’s never lived in the new Courtenay-Alberni riding, he has spent a lot of time here. His grandparents live in Port Alberni and he visited Courtenay frequently as a high school athlete who played multiple sports, such as rugby, basketball and track.

“I spent so much time at G.P. Vanier, the coaches there still recognize me,” Gowans said. “I travelled to Vanier on 33 weekends of my senior year in high school.”

Campaign issues

On the issues, Gowans is focused on the environment and affordability. He says the concept of affordability permeates many aspects of Canadian life, including housing and health care.

“Young people and seniors are most affected by the lack of affordable housing,” he said. “That’s high on my list.”

He supports Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment for a national pharmacare program that would extend prescription drug coverage to all Canadians.

“And, of course, jobs. Creating more local jobs helps make everything more affordable,” he said.

The environment and the effects of climate change are important to politically active members of his generation, Gowans says.

He thinks Trudeau has taken a fair and balanced approach to the TransMountain pipeline by “taking our lumps, going back to the drawing board and working through the process, without an adversarial mindset.”

He says everyone on the BC coast fears the consequences of an oil spill.

“But fear can’t be the only thing guiding public policy,” he said. “We won’t get off oil entirely anytime soon. The BC government has set a target of 2040 to eliminate gas vehicles, but we still won’t be oil free even then.”

Gowans believes the pipeline has a place “for the moment,” and he trusts Environment Minister McKenna to stand up for the environment and reel Trudeau back in “if he’s gone too far.”


A clean campaign

Gowans says he will campaign on his ability to get things done.

In grade 12, Gowans and some friends restarted Powell River’s Youth Resource Center and raised enough funds to finance its first year. Then they handed it off to younger teenagers — one of his younger brothers included — and the center is still going eight years later.

He thinks the Oct. 21 election will come down to choice on who Canadians trust the most: Liberal leader Justin Trudeau or Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.

“In many ways, it’s a similar choice that voters had in 2015, when not everyone knew Trudeau,” he said. “Now they do and they will feel more comfortable with their vote for him.”

Gowans says he will run a positive campaign. He doesn’t plan to launch any negative attack ads on incumbent MP Gord Johns as the Conservative candidate Byron Horner has been doing.

“I will show people an alternative approach that I think would work better, not drag somebody else down,” he says. “If you say some policy or other is wrong, show us how you would make it better.”

Gowans plans extensive door knocking in his 8,900 square kilometer riding that stretches from Nanoose to Tofino and from Lasqueti, Denman and Hornby islands to Bamfield. It even includes unlikely pieces of the Comox Valley you would think of as Comox.

He knows the incumbent — NDP Gord Johns — is well-liked and will be a formidable opponent. But he thinks of himself as seasoned in facing tough opponents.











Friday, October 11, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Monday, October 14, 2019

Or before Oct. 15 at the Elections Canada office at 2435 Mansfield Drive
Courtenay BC V9N2M2


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More Politics

Conservative Horner snubs climate all-candidates forum

Recent youth-led climate strikes in the Comox Valley indicate that climate change has become an issue in the federal election, but Conservative Byron Horner has declined an invitation to participate in an Oct. 4 candidates forum on the topic