Candidates agree to square off on Haida Gwaii

  • Sep. 23, 2015 12:00 p.m.

By Stacey MarpleHaida Gwaii ObserverNathan Cullen, Brad Layton and Don Spratt have all agreed to attend the first-ever federal all-candidates debates on Haida Gwaii.Queen Charlotte Mayor Greg Martin made the announcement that two debates would be held Oct. 1in Queen Charlotte with a second in Masset on Oct. 2 “We have the incumbent Nathan Cullen and we are working on a few more, we are taking this as a green light,”  Queen Charlotte Mayor Greg Martin told village council. The NDP’s Nathan Cullen, Liberal Brad Layton and Christian Heritage Party’s Don Spratt have confirmed their attendance but freshly-nominated Conservative candidate Tyler Nesbitt is yet to give the thumbs up. As of press time, the Green Party had yet to nominate a candidate. The federal all-candidate debates on Haida Gwaii is so important that BC Ferries made an unexpected and unheard of move to delay the sailing of the Kwuna to 8 p.m. to allow Sandspit residents to attend.With assurance of Mayor Greg Martin, who will also be the moderator of the debate, they will hit their marks. “To make sure they make their ferry we are not going to run the debate to 8 p.m… The moderator [will be] very heavy with a gavel and will nail the formal part down by 7:30, so Sandspit residents can get to the ferry,” Mr. Martin said. The location for the Village of Queen Charlotte-sponsored debate is the Kay Centre Oct. 1. Masset Mayor Andrew Merilees will get his turn at the debates in Masset at the Howard Phillips Hall Oct. 2.Mr. Martin told the Observer that the planning was in its early stages but would like to secure Skidegate Band Chief Councillor Billy Yovanovich to participate in the debate in some form. Village of Queen Charlotte CAO, Lori Weidman said they are welcoming suggested questions for the candidates and told the Observer there will be a Facebook page set up for the public to have a chance to bring the concerns of Haida Gwaii, in the form of a question, into the debates with the federal candidates. The organizers will also have an area with computers to assist people in registering to vote, which has already proven to be an issue on Haida Gwaii. “We will have laptops set up and making sure people are registered to vote,” Ms.Weidman said. The Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding was created in 2003 out of the Skeena, Prince George-Bulkley Valley and Cariboo-Chilcotin riding and has been held by NDP MP Nathan Cullen since the riding was formed. The Skeena- Bulkley Valley riding is also the largest area and least populated in Canada.

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