The All Candidates Forum took place at the Lester Centre on Oct. 1. (Matthew Allen / The Northern View)

COLUMN: On debate, dissent and the clash of ideas in Prince Rupert

Matthew Allen reviews the all candidates forum and the 'vanilla' conversation

The general consensus after last week’s All Candidates Forum was that it was a relatively vanilla event.

Most of questions covered topics familiar to most Prince Rupert residents and the debate’s participants agreed on how those issues should be solved.

Renegotiate the Ridley Island Tax Sharing Agreement. Get more help from the province regarding the Port Tax Cap. Revitalize Third Avenue. Regulate the sale of marijuana responsibly.

Rinse. Repeat.

There were no fireworks or no headline grabbing confrontations. Nothing really shook up the room or the status quo.

People seemed disappointed by this, and it made me wonder if a debate truly serves its purpose if ideas don’t clash.

The thing about a dissenting voice is that it can’t be can’t manufactured. Just in the same way you can’t force someone to agree with you, you also can’t force people to disagree with each other.

Maybe the issues that were present in Prince Rupert four years ago are still the same issues present today and there is nothing else to talk about.

Maybe everyone really does agree on how to solve those problems, or at least there aren’t any new ideas on how those problems should be solved.

Maybe the format of the debate was a little too friendly and didn’t force the participants to really take on divisive issues.

I guess my point is that there weren’t any new ideas brought forward at the debate, and if there are no opposing ideas presented, all that’s left to vote on is personality, charisma and presentation.

And while there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, I think debates are a really good opportunity for a community to have a hard conversation with itself.

I think we may have left something on the table this time.

READ MORE: 2018 municipal debate primer


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