Candidates ready to take centre stage

Voters will get their chance to learn more about Okanagan Coquihalla candidates over the next week at both traditional forums and youth-orientated events.

Voters will get their chance to learn more about Okanagan Coquihalla candidates over the next week at both traditional forums and youth-orientated events.

On Tuesday the Penticton Western News and the South Okanagan Seniors Wellness Society are co-sponsoring an all-candidates meeting from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the South Main Seniors Drop-In Centre.

“The Penticton seniors all-candidates forum provides a great opportunity to hear each candidate’s platform and to ask questions about the major issues facing seniors now and into the future, such as cuts to health care, lack of affordable seniors’ housing and the need for core funding for community and in-home supports which serve to keep seniors healthier and in their homes longer,” said Kelly Smith, executive director of the South Okanagan Wellness Society. “The more seniors who attend the forum, the more who will be sending the message that their vote counts.”

The forum includes Conservative candidate Dan Albas, Dan Bouchard of the Green Party, David Finnis for the NDP, John Kidder for the Liberals and independents Sean Upshaw and Dietrich Wittel.

The candidates will also all be at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre Monday for a forum sponsored by the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce. Doors to the event open at 6:30 p.m. with no latecomers admitted after the forum starts at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, starting at 7 p.m., local musicians and artists are donating their time to help raise awareness of voting and politics to youth in a free event called Rock YOUR Vote.

With the age group between 18-35 accounting for the weakest numbers at Canadian polls when it comes to election day, Rock YOUR Vote sets out to help change that in this area by reaching out in a new way to appeal to this demographic.

“Revolution and evolution come from people making noise and taking action. Without new voters, politics will be left to the nearly dead talking heads who run the show now,” said Kidder.

Upshaw is also pleased to take part, saying “youth is the voice of our future.”

The candidates running in the federal election in the Okanagan Coquihalla riding have joined local promoter Ty Surowski for an evening of live music and art at the Shatford Centre to help bring awareness to the important role youth play in the future of the country.

“I know first hand from my work as an instructor, it is vitally important to connect and encourage our youth to be the best they can be — as citizens and future leaders,” said Albas.

Rock YOUR Vote will give everyone an opportunity to ask questions, speak their mind and get information on why, where and how to vote in a comfortable, fun environment. It is open to all ages and is free.

“Democracy matters. Participation means being able to affect change, solve problems and improve things,” said Finnis.

Local bands and artists that will be there include The Daybeats, Ari Neufeld, Aiden Mayes, DJ Arise, Endrene Shepard, Eswan Blagdon, Sean Riley along with special guests.

Bouchard said he is “stoked” about the event. “(It’s a) great opportunity for youth to get off the sidelines and get into the game.”

Summerland residents will get their chance to meet the candidates at an election forum held at Centre Stage Theatre on April 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and will close at 7 p.m.

The forum is organized by the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism. Lisa Jaager, manager of the chamber, said organizers are accepting candidate questions for the event.