Civility trumps contention at Yukon College candidates’ forum

Relaxed discussion was the order of the day at the Yukon College candidates’ forum — polite audience, few attacks and few tough questions…

Relaxed discussion was the order of the day at the Yukon College candidates’ forum — polite audience, few attacks and few tough questions from student attendees.

Beforehand, the candidates perched on risers, joking about the ongoing campaign.

Unlike previous forums, the candidates  were not sitting at desks laden with notes, ring binders, timers and water jugs. Rather, they stood side-by-side behind a row of four microphones — looking almost like backup singers for a Joe Cocker concert.

Pro- or antiabortion?

Green Party candidate John Streicker, Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell and NDP candidate Ken Bolton renewed their party’s longstanding pro-abortion platforms.

“The position that we have, and I’ll read it, is that ‘our party will not initiate or support any legislation to regulate abortion’ — that’s the party policy,” said Darrell Pasloski, the Conservative candidate.

Antiscab legislation to protect striking workers?

“There’s nothing more painful for a worker than to be standing on a picket line … and to watch busloads of people being pushed through the line and basically taking the food off their children’s plates,” said Bolton.

Keeping strikes “at a minimum” is the best route, because “they’re no good for anybody,” said Pasloski, advocating for strong negotiation between labour and management.

Antiscab legislation is fine as long as essential services are in place, said Bagnell.

Strikes can be good, advancing workers’ rights, said Streicker.

The audience microphone suddenly gave out, prompting Bolton to slowly edge his own microphone in as a replacement. The other three candidates helped by awkwardly feeding him audio cable with their hands and feet.

“Way to work together!” said someone in the audience.

One student questioned Streicker on the Conservative backgrounds of current Green Party leader Elizabeth May and former Green leader Jim Harris — asking what side of the political spectrum the party was on.

His party has looked to move “ahead” of the left-right dichotomy, said Streicker.

“We’re not a right-wing or a left-wing party, I encourage people to look at our social policies to see what they think of us,” he said.

A follow-up question focused on the general role of government.

“I will not stand by and watch our country being sacked and ravaged by an agenda that basically says ‘government is there to do the bidding of the large corporations,” said Bolton in his response.

When candidates were lobbed the classic question of “Why should we vote for you?” Bagnell reiterated his experience, Pasloski criticized Liberal spending and praised Conservative economy management, while the other two just seemed to want people to vote.

“I’m supposed to stand up here and say why you should vote for me, and I’m not going to do that,” said Streicker.

“I think you should vote,” he said.

Earlier in the week, the Streicker campaign had been preparing cards listing all the websites of the competing parties in a bid to see increased voter turnout, he said.

“I encourage you to look at the other party’s platforms too, use your best judgement and wisdom when you vote next week,” said Bolton.

“But I do hope you will vote for a government that will put you and your family first,” he added.