SUPPORTING LOCAL DEMOCRACY – Summary of Two All Candidates’ Meetings

My thanks to the two Oak Bay organizations, ReconciliACTION Oak Bay and the North Oak Bay Community Association, that hosted All Candidates’ Meetings in September. These meetings are important to supporting healthy local democracy and integral to encouraging community dialogue. The goal is to inform voters, for residents to inform candidates and to provide opportunities to interact with one another.

Held on September 18, 2022 at the Canadian College of Performing Arts and sponsored by ReconciliACTION Oak Bay (a network of local organizations supporting action on Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation), the meeting focused on Indigenous affairs and relationship-building with local Indigenous communities. Oak Bay/Gordon Head MLA and Oak Bay resident, Minister Murray Rankin, set the context while CBC radio’s “On the Island” host, Gregor Craigie, Oak Bay resident, was the MC.

Well attended by Oak Bay residents, audience questions focused on what experiences in and goals for Indigenous Truth and Reconciliation Oak Bay candidates had and could share, with an emphasis on actions candidates would take to advance Indigenous relationships between the municipality and local First Nations, specifically the Songhees and Esquimalt Peoples.

Questions ranged from the personal to the professional and touched on potential partnerships and initiatives, specific to the future of local sites such as Spewhung/Turkey Head site (Oak Bay Marine site), and what each candidate would do to honour the goals of the Province’s UNDRIP legislation.

I found it a challenging evening, given the sensitivity of the topic. But I was able to draw on my professional experience and background in the criminal justice system, in the community college system, at the provincial level working in the post-secondary and K-12 education systems and as municipal councillor in North Saanich. My background involved working with Indigenous students, families, communities or Indigenous educational programming/services.

The second All Candidates’ Meeting was hosted by the North Oak Bay Community Association on September 28, 2022 at the Emmanuel Baptist Church. Well attended, the meeting was moderated by Dr. Michael Prince of the University of Victoria. Written questions were provided and ranged from “Why should we vote for you?” to “How can we make Oak Bay a more welcoming and inclusive community?” Other questions related to housing, the unhoused/homelessness, the health care crisis, active transportation, climate change/action and housing infill.

I hope that audiences found both meetings informative and helpful when making decisions about candidates and their platforms.

The next local All Candidates’ Meeting will be on October 7, 2022, at 7:00 PM, Oak Bay United Church on Granite St., sponsored by the Community Association of Oak Bay. Hoping you will attend.