Do I Dare Call it a Debate?

I kind of feel bad not having this up sooner, but time got away from me. Then this whole thing came back to me, and with all the other talk of the municipal election, I felt this had to be posted.

I’m really glad they have debates before an election, not just so you can hear what the politicians’ stances are on issues, but so you can get a feel for who they are. But this debate, which had our five candidates for the two councillors in our part of the city, on top of all of that, was just entertaining. I think some of these people should have had a little more practice.

Let’s get a look at how our candidates did, or at least how I felt they did. First off, there were the two who were already on council, trying to keep their seats. Maggie Laidlaw was cool. She said things that made sense, was able to joke, and you really felt she was comfortable. I guess other people agreed, she’s still here, and got the highest number of votes.

Dan Schnurr, on the other hand, seemed more than a bit nervous. Whenever anyone asked him a hard question, he would sit squarely on the fense and say nothing of any consequence. He confused me, because just when I thought I’d gotten a read on where he stood, he would surprise me. He seemed very conservative, and then he’d talk about his push for social housing. I felt sorry for poor Dan in a way, because as much as I tried to listen to him, his voice bugged the shit out of me. It sounded like he had swallowed one of those king-sized marbles and it was stuck in his vocal chords. I kept calling him Pee-wee Schnurrman.

But oh when you got to the people trying to get on council, that’s where the fun began. I guess I can understand it, since they probably haven’t had much practice with this stuff. First, there was Craig Chamberlain. You could tell he was obviously reading from his notes whenever they asked him a question. In his opening statement, he said something about “this is not about me and how bad I am at public speaking.” I think it was supposed to be a joke, but it was more like a nail in the coffin for me. I don’t remember a thing he said. Sometimes because whatever he spewed out didn’t relate to the question at all, and sometimes because his delivery was so unbelievably distracting. Not only would he stutter and stammer long enough to run out of time, but sometimes he would drastically change his pace of speech from really slow to almost as fast as that guy in the Expedia.ca commercial. Ok not quite that fast, but you know what I mean. I do remember that his campaign was called the common ground campaign. He only said that a zilion times.

Next, there was June Hofland. She went from making perfect sense, like when she talked about things needing to be in walking distance because we need to do less driving, to being kind of funny, like when she talked about how she would meet with her neighbours to discuss things over butter tarts, to looking absolutely positively stupid! Note: when you’re in a debate that could decide whether or not people vote for you, it’s never good to get that deer in the headlights look and go “I … don’t … knooooow!” on several questions. Maybe that just bugged me because it reminded me of other stupid dopes we met in a certain apartment hunt. Come on, show that you know something. Show that you’ve done some research into what you’re going to do for the next four years. At the end, it was like she was pleading for people to give her a chance. “I really want to get onto council so I can learn these things…” Well I guess the pleading worked, she edged out poor old Pee-wee Schnurrman.

But the funniest one of all was Charlie Whittaker, who came in last. Where do I begin? Well, I guess I’ll begin by telling him to turn on his microphone. This guy could not grasp the idea that in order for a microphone to work, you have to turn it on, and in order for it to not feed back when it was time for the next councillor to speak, you have to turn it off when you were done, and could not grasp the concept over the course of a two-hour debate. Steve thought that if we’d listened to the debate later, we should have played the “your microphone please, Charlie” drinking game, where you do a shot whenever the poor moderator had to tell dear old Charlie to turn on or off his microphone. But maybe it’s a good idea we didn’t, because by the end, we would have been completely smashed and unable to understand what they were saying anyway.

But the strangeness wasn’t over once Charlie did get his microphone on and started to talk. When asked what his top issue was, all he could come up with was the beautification of Edinburgh Road. That’s the best he could do? Make one road in the whole ward look better? There wasn’t mention of affordable housing, families, jobs, the garbage situation. Just the beautification of one road.

The best was his complete arrogance. I think he thought he had his seat in the bag already. He must have, because he proclaimed to everyone that he has spent $250 to install a second phone, or “telly phone” as he pronounced it, in his house exclusively for calls from constituents. Well, there’s $250 he’ll be wishing he never spent. How about waiting until you get elected, and then installing your telly phone? Maybe you should also master the micro phone.

Now I just feel like a big meany. I know I would probably suck heartily if I tried to run for council. But I figure if I’m putting myself on public display, I’m opening myself up to be roasted if I don’t at least prepare a little. So I guess they deserved it. But I never knew a debate could be that entertaining!

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