Bruce Grey Owen Sound MP Larry Miller is declining an invite to take part in an all candidates debate sponsored by the Owen Sound and District Chamber of Commerce.
It is planned for October 1st at 7 PM in the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound.
Miller has fired off a letter to the Chamber of Commerce saying the format for these debates has become obsolete.
The Conservative MP issued a statement in May of 2011 just after his re-election to Parliament, saying these debates have simply become a contest between candidates to see who can get the greatest number of supporters out to cheer and jeer.
He says they are only attending to cheer louder than the supporters of other parties or embarrass another candidate with planted questions.
Miller says this was made clear to him at a debate during the last campaign when he asked the crowd of 300 people if anyone was still undecided on who to vote for, and only about a dozen people put up their hands.
The Bruce Grey Owen Sound MP tells Bayshore Broadcasting News he will respectfully be declining to participate in any all-candidates meeting that follows the traditional format, one he says simply does not work.
Miller says he would prefer a format where each candidate is given a few minutes for opening statements and then they go to a corner and take questions directly from voters.
He says he had local voters complain in past campaigns that when they attended the all-candidates meetings they were disappointed that they did not get to directly ask their question of a candidate.
Miller says there needs to be more of an opportunity for voters to learn rather than candidates and their supporters to play political games.
Below includes the contents of a letter to the editor from Larry Miller, MP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, regarding local all-candidates meetings in the upcoming Federal Election:
This letter serves to reiterate my position on the current format of local all-candidates meetings during election campaigns as was presented in my letter published in the Owen Sound Sun Times on May 4th, 2011, just two days after the 2011 Federal Election. In this letter I stated that all-candidates meetings, in their present format, have become obsolete. Therefore, in the upcoming election campaign I will respectfully be declining to participate in any all-candidates meeting that follows the traditional format; a format that simply does not work.
I feel that it is important that your readers, and all residents of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, understand the reasoning behind my position. As stated in my previous letter, these debates have simply become a contest between candidates to see who can get the greatest number of supporters out to these debates. This was made clear to me at a debate during the last campaign when I asked the crowd of approximately 300 people if anyone was still undecided on who they would be voting for. Approximately 12-15 people put up their hands. This is no fault of the groups and associations that organize these meetings; it is simply a tendency that has developed over time.
To me, these debates should be about voters having the opportunity to ask questions directly to the candidates and to hear their opinions on issues that are important to the voter. This simply does not occur when more than 95% of the people in attendance already know who they will be voting for. They are only attending to cheer louder than the supporters of other parties or embarrass another candidate with planted questions. I am not interested in this type of event.
It should be made very clear that this is not to be taken as an indication that I will not participate in any all-candidates meetings. I will participate in any type of all-candidates events that make an effort to avoid the practices and tendencies of the current format which have made these meetings obsolete. Any meetings that involve direct, one-on-one participation with the voter would be a very suitable format.
In all 4 of my campaigns I have had local voters complain to me that when they attended the all-candidates meetings they were disappointed that they did not get to directly ask their question to a candidate. These meetings are in need of reform to increase their practicality. They need to become more of an opportunity for voters to learn rather than candidates and their supporters to play political games. In the event that a new format cannot be agreed upon, voters can be sure that I will hold a ‘meet and greet’ in each community so that every voter in the riding has the opportunity to ask me questions in person."