By Trevor Busch
With the provincial election heating up on the hustings, the Taber and District Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Taber-Warner candidates election forum on May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Taber Legion Hall.
“So we’re setting up the forum with a moderator, Ken Holst,” said Rick Popadynetz, chamber board member and co-organizer of the forum. “We’ll have a five minute introduction for each candidate, they’ll be able to talk. We’re definitely supporting the business community, so we’re hoping all the businesses from the chamber show up for this forum and are able to ask questions, business related, and there’ll also be an open question period for people to ask their questions to the candidates, and get good feedback.”
In Taber-Warner, four candidates have thrown their hats into the ring, including Grant Hunter (United Conservative Party), Jazminn Hintz (Alberta NDP), Joel Hunt (Green Party of Alberta) and Paul Hinman (Wildrose Loyalty Coalition).
During the evening, says Popadynetz, local voters will have an opportunity to approach a mic and ask their questions of the candidates.
“People will have to state their name and their question. Basically, how we’ve been doing it for the last 10 years.”
One long-standing tradition for local political forums was the participation of the Sugar Town Sweet Talkers as moderators and organizers, but Popadynetz says the club has now disbanded.
Popadynetz said the TDCC was considering livestreaming the forum, but no decision had been made as of Friday.
“We’re looking at maybe livestreaming it. During the COVID times we livestreamed all other forums. So we’re just in the process of talking about that, if we’re going to livestream it through the chamber website. But the fact of the matter is, it’s actually easier for you to come down and ask the questions. And we ask that everybody be respectful, because it is a place of respect.”
Democracy is important, said Popadynetz, and participating in the electoral process should be considered a responsibility, not just a choice.
“I think democracy is kind of forgotten in the last few years and through COVID, I think everybody needs to get out and vote, and not only vote for candidates, but the candidate that can affect your life the most. Let’s get out there and see who’s going to prosper our area, and make our lives the best. Don’t vote for a party just because your friend’s doing it. Vote for the people that are going to affect you.”
While not firmly entrenched in anyone’s political camp, Popadynetz was critical of what he perceives as the erosion of respectful political discourse in the province.
“I always stay neutral. I don’t join any (parties), I’ve never been a card carrying member of any party. And I don’t like party politics, and I don’t like the way this is going with the American style of political slander – I don’t like that. The province needs to do better. We need more leaders in our province.”
“I just want people to come out,” said Popadynetz.
The 31st provincial election takes place on May 29.