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A Different Forum For Choosing a Candidate

Editor's Note: Irene Lambert is Program Director and Past President of the Low Vision Self-Help Association in Montreal, Quebec. She is also President of AEBC's Montreal Chapter.

The federal election was to be held two weeks after the Low Vision Self-Help Association's January meeting. Since many of our members seemed to be having a great deal of difficulty deciding who to vote for, we invited local candidates to come and speak to us at our meeting. Four out of five candidates accepted the invitation.

Most association members had never met any of the candidates and everyone was tired of the negative and redundant ads and debates. Consequently, we allocated a time slot of 20 minutes to each candidate. Each one spoke for ten minutes and then responded to questions for another ten. Ten minutes was just the right amount of time for them to present their platform and personal message, and ten minutes more were just about right to answer individual questions and add their own spin to national issues. The next speaker was not introduced until the previous speaker had left the hall.

Our evaluation of the event was very positive. We were able to hear the speaker in a quiet environment and everyone who cared to was able to ask questions. We had an opportunity to see a more personal side of each candidate, notice their body language and observe their impromptu responses to various issues. Each candidate was able to meet 50 to 60 voters they may not have met otherwise, and were able to present themselves in a meaningful manner with no conflict or time wasted on idle chatter. It was truly a win-win situation.

The ultimate outcome was that the candidate who won the election has followed through with his promise to support us with our campaign for voting privately in Ottawa. We also have the Green Party candidate coming as a guest speaker on the environment.