Political parties, especially coalitions, like to use the analogy of being a big tent when appealing to members of other parties to join them.The standard line is there’s room in their tent for all.
Well, it may not be big, but the Central Okanagan’s three Liberal MLAs now have their own tent and they plan to use it make themselves more accessible at events through out the community.
Norm Letnick (Kelowna-Lake Country), Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission) and Ben Stewart (Westside-Kelowna) all pitched with funds from their respective office budgets to buy the tent that they plan to share and set up at events throughout Kelowna, Lake Country, West Kelowna and Peachland from now on in a bid to meet constituents and help anyone looking for information from government.
“We felt it was a way of inviting people to come talk to us without having them come to the office,” said Letnick.
Along with Thomson, Letnick manned the tent on Sunday in Kelowna during the Canada Day celebrations in Waterfront Park.
He said the three MLAs, who often describe themselves as working as a team, will take turns using the tent and set it up at events in their respective ridings throughout the year. In addition to the MLAs, members of their office staffs will also be on hand to provide constituents with information and help.
Letnick said because the effort is being paid for with taxpayer dollars, none of the information provided will be partisan, but rather be the same sort of help provided to constituents by their elected representatives through the local MLA’s office.
The blue tent, which sports all three MLA’s names in white, along with the legislative coat of arms, does not include a B.C. Liberal Party logo or Liberal party signs.
“We wanted to find a way of being more accessible,” said Letnick, adding he personally feels more comfortable letting local residents come to him to ask questions, provide input or seek help rather than walking up to people at crowded events, telling them who he is and asking about their concerns. That is often done through more formal office mailouts.
Elected representatives manning tents or booths at public events, while not new, has not been used extensively here in the past. Coincidentally, at West Kelowna’s Westside Daze event on the weekend, the local NDP had a tent, as did the B.C. Conservatives.
Letnick said the new tent made its first appearance two months ago at Rutland’s May Days event, which is held in his riding. On Saturday, it was at Westside Daze, which is in Stewart’s riding.