-by Hub staff

It looks like we may have our first federal election on the third Monday of October since the date for federal elections was fixed in the Elections Act to "prevent governments from calling snap elections for short-term political advantage" (Stephen Harper, May 2006).

That must be how the Owen Sound and District Chamber of Commerce is calling it, because they have issued a media release about a two-hour All Candidates Meeting on October 1 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre, to be broadcast on Rogers TV.

The incumbent, MP Larry Miller, has politely declined the invitation to participate, at least if the format remains unchanged from 2011.

The text of his letter to the Chamber Manager, Bert Loopstra, is as follows:


Dear Bert;
Thank you for your invitation to participate in this all-candidates meeting.
Please see the attached Letter to the Editor written by myself and published on May 4th, 2011. For the reasons stated in this letter, I am respectfully declining to participate in all all-candidates meeting in their present format.
As you can see, I made this decision immediately after the May 2nd, 2011 election. My intention is not to avoid voters but rather to come up with a way for more one-on-one discussion. I respectfully think that the current format does not accomplish this and needs to be revised.
I would be happy to discuss changes to the format with you. I would also be more than happy to speak to your organization at any time and answer questions from your members.
Thank you again for your invitation.
Yours truly,
Larry Miller, MP


Below is the text of Mr. Miller's Letter to the Editor concerning all candidates meetings published on May 4, 2011 .


"Firstly, it has become quite clear how obsolete all-candidates meetings have become. As I've always suspected, 95% of the voters who attend these debates already have their minds made up as to who they are going to support. That thought was re-inforced on April 27 when I asked the approximate 300 people at the Bayshore, "who has not decided who they were going to vote for?" Approximately 12 -15 people put up their hands. These debates have simply become a contest to see which candidate can get the most supporters out. That is not good. These debates are well-organized (with some exceptions) and it is not the organizers' fault things have gotten to where they are today.
Further; some of these attendees act just like some members of the House of Commons during question period with jeers and catcalls if they don't agree with something that one of the candidates says. I presume these same people would be some of the first to criticize that kind of behavior in the HOC. There is no difference. Bad behavior is bad behavior no matter how you dress it up.
In the future, should I throw my name in as a candidate in an election, I will not be attending any of the debates with the exception of debates held in schools and seniors' homes. Students actually come to these debates to learn about the candidates, while the residents of seniors' homes have no other opportunity to see the candidates.
It has come to a time where all-candidates meetings have to evolve.
I don't have all the answers as to how they need to evolve but there is a new rage out there right now – town hall meetings by telephone where thousands can participate. That may be just one of the options we are looking for. We have to find ways to encourage greater participation if we want more people involved in the electoral process. And we do!"


Mr. Miller did hold a riding-wide telephone town hall earlier this spring. Caller questions were vetted by a moderator. As it was outside the official election period, the cost would have been part of the MP's constituency communications budget and not an election expense.


In a letter to the editor today, Mr. Miller reiterated much of what he said in 2011, and then added:


"It should be made very clear that this is not to be taken as an indication that I will not participate in any all candidates meetings. I will participate in any type of all candidates events that make an effort to avoid the practices and tendencies of the current format, which have made these meetings obsolete. Any meetings that involve direct one-on-one participation with the voter would be a very suitable format.

In all four of my campaigns I have had local voters complain to me that when they attended the all candidates meetings they were disappointed that they did not get to directly ask their question to a candidate. These meetings are in need of reform to increase their practicality. They need to become more of an opportunity for voters to learn rather than candidates and their supporters to play political games. In the event that a new format cannot be agreed upon, voters can be sure that I will hold a 'meet and greet' in each community so that every voter in the riding has the opportunity to ask me questions in person."

source: media releases