The Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians, a local social justice movement, has teamed up with ten other non-governmental organizations to give Frederictonians their first taste of who is running for mayor in the upcoming municipal elections and what they have to say about issues that affect the Fredericton community. The question and answer session is scheduled for Thursday, April 15, from 7-9 pm.
Unlike our three previous question and answer forums for candidates running for political office, which we hosted at Christ Church Cathedral hall, this upcoming session will be conducted online using the videoconference platform known as Zoom. This means that anyone with an email address and who has either a laptop, smartphone, or tablet can participate wherever you are—no need to drive anywhere. To join the session, register here.
Two men—Mike O’Brien and Drew Brown—and two women—Corinne Hersey and Kate Rogers—are vying for the position of mayor of New Brunswick’s capital city.
With the exception of Drew Brown, each candidate has a webpage outlining their visions.
Incumbent Mike O’Brien’s platform appears to be focused on seven issues. Economic growth is first and tackling social injustices is last.
Kate Rogers’ platform consists of nine items, the first being “housing for all” and last, “thoughtful development.”
Consisting of 12 items, Corinne Hersey’s platform ranges from such things as “consult[ing] and invit[ing] indigenous community representative(s) to be a voice on council” and “increasing Fredericton’s grass-roots art community to be visible and viable.”
Albeit useful in giving us a flavour for what their leadership might be about, all of their platforms are short on detail. So that’s why question and answer sessions such as the one being proposed for this coming Thursday are important as it is events like this which allow Frederictonians to understand what the candidate’s positions are on this, that, and the other thing and to make informed voting choices on voting day.
The format is simple. Our unbiased moderator, Maggie Connell, will be asking all the questions. Each mayoral candidate has 1-2 minutes to respond to each question. A timer will signal when any given speaker has run out of time. Sponsoring organizations each get to ask one question prepared beforehand. Registered participants can then pitch their question by typing it on screen.
At the time of this writing, Brown, Hersey, and Rogers have confirmed their attendance. After asking about the format, O’Brien has been silent on whether or not he intends to participate. Registered participants will still get to see four screens on the night of the event, regardless. Any no-show mayoral candidate will have his/her name featured on a computer screen throughout the evening.
None of the sponsoring organizations have anything to gain or lose from their involvement in this. We are not endorsing anyone and are providing this candidate forum strictly as a public service because this is the level of politics which has the most impact on our everyday lives—roads, land development, taxes, water, sewer, garbage, police, community gardens, fire, climate change, Wolastoq flooding, transportation, and so on. Yet, only one out every three eligible Frederictonian voters cast their vote in the 2016 municipal elections which is another reason why the sponsoring organizations are doing this.
We encourage everyone reading this to forward this piece to everyone they know and to urge friends and neighbours to participate by voting on May 10.
Jean Louis Deveau is an organizer with the Council of Canadians Fredericton Chapter.