By Andrew Mitchell
Never let it be said that Whistlerites are apathetic.
On Tuesday, the three candidates for the West Vancouver-Garibaldi riding formally introduced themselves to the community at a Whistler Chamber of Commerce-sponsored all candidates meeting and answered questions from the audience. Joan McIntyre represented the B.C. Liberal Party, Lyle Fenton the New Democratic Party of B.C. and Dennis Perry the Green Party of B.C.
Of the approximately 80 people who turned out for the event, almost 20 asked questions of the candidates before moderator William Roberts of the Whistler Forum for Dialogue at last called the event after an hour and a half of speaking.
For undecided voters, the evening clearly showed the different strategies that are being employed by the different candidates and political parties, as well as a glimpse of how the candidates would represent this riding.
For the NDP candidate, the plan was to attack the Liberal record on health care and education, and to warn voters that the Liberal Party strategy was to privatize Crown corporations and public services. The NDP would work to restore social programs that have been cut.
For the Liberal candidate, the strategy was to point to the economic recovery in the province, and to let voters know that more money would be spent on health, education and social programs now that the province is on firm financial footing. McIntyre also pointed to the record of the previous NDP government, while suggesting that the Green Party platform would be a disaster for the provincial economy.
For the Green candidate, the strategy was to run an outsider campaign by painting the Greens as a strong, independent voice in the province that would represent communities rather than central political parties. Perry also worked to establish the partyÕs credibility on economic issues, while promoting new social spending through taxes.
Judging by the applause from the crowd, all of the candidates scored points during the meeting Ñ even if their statements often contradicted one another and left voters more confused than enlightened on various issues.
For example, both Fenton and Perry accused the Liberals of cutting funding for education and health care, while McIntyre argued that the Liberals had actually increased funding in those areas.
There were also conflicting facts presented over the fate of social programs like special education, support for seniors, and environmental policy.