The Conservatives won’t talk

Why we have no interviews with Conservative MPs

On Monday Sept. 28, I sent out emails requesting interviews with Conservative MPs of eight major “KPU” ridings.

As you can tell, I wasn’t very successful. The day after I sent my requests I got a phone call from the Mark Warara office—the Conservative incumbent for Langley-Aldergrove. On the other end was a staffer who explained to me that Wawara wouldn’t be available to talk during the times I described, times which included “any time on Thursday,” even for a simple 10 minute talk.

I asked the staffer, “What about next week?” Apparently he couldn’t do that either.

I also got an email, that same day, from the Diane Watts office—the Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock. The staffer said she’d find out and get back to me, which hasn’t happened as of print time.

None of my other emails have been answered. I thought for some time, “it’s because I write for a small-time student newspaper.” However, Richmond News attempted to interview Kenny Chiu, the Conservative MP for my riding, Steveston-Richmond East, but didn’t get a response from him in time for their Sept. 28th MP profile. This stunned me, considering Richmond News is the only newspaper in Richmond at the moment, and serves the 200,000 people who live here. How the hell are these MPs supposed to represent the people of their riding if they won’t even communicate with the newspapers that they need to speak to?

I was at a town hall meeting last week, on Sept. 30, which had all eight candidates for the two Richmond electoral districts in attendance. Two Liberals, two NDPs, two Greens and two Conservatives. The event, moderated by Richmond News, also allowed for questions from the audience, one of which was “The Conservative candidates have been absent from many debates in Richmond. Why?”

Alice Wong replied, saying “I’m here!” which elicited laughter from the audience. “I’ve been attending quite a few debates, and I think the best debates is to go to the doors, listen to the people, door knocking, door knocking, door knocking. Until probably the day of Oct. 19, listening to their concerns.”

Whether that answers the question is up to you. While Wong, a serving member of parliament since 2008, did in fact show up to this grueling two-hour town hall meeting, this hasn’t been the case in other ridings. At the new Calgary-Skyview riding, incumbent Conservative MP Devinder Shory didn’t show up, while Green, Liberal, and NDP candidates did.

This also happened in Ottawa, with none of the Conservative candidates replying to debate invitations, with the exception of Walter Pamic, who replied “no.” Like Wong, they also cited “door knocking” and other commitments as reasons not to come by. It seems rather suspect that so many Conservative candidates would rather knock on a few doors than get in front of a camera to defend their party.

Another example would be Toronto, where an LGBT-themed debate was held—but as you might expect, only three out of four potential candidates showed up.

This is most obviously seen at the leadership level. While Harper did show up to three English language debates—Munk, McLean’s, and Globe and Mail—he declined the traditional CBC debate, which in 2011 had over five million Canadians tuning in. The other debates were streamed online, but only got viewerships of roughly 60,000 each.

I brought this up with Lawrence Woo, the Liberal candidate for Richmond Centre. “If you just stay behind and keep your mouth shut, if you do that, and people still elect you, then there’s something wrong with our system.”