Voters in the Kootenay-Columbia riding have another resource to help them make an informed decision in the Oct. 19 federal election, with a Facebook page created by the Creston Valley’s Robert Falconer offering a non-partisan look at the issues.
“It started as something more for me than anyone else. I’ve been kind of frustrated with this election because there’s a lot of rhetoric and party lines,” said the 25-year-old, who has an undergraduate degree in medical anthropology from the University of Toronto.
The page, Just the Issues: Kootenay-Columbia Elections 2015 at www.facebook.com/kootenayelection, offers more than just neutral explanations by Falconer. All five Kootenay-Columbia candidates — Bill Green (Green), Don Johnston (Liberal), Wayne Stetski (NDP), David Wilks (Conservative) and Christina Yahn (Libertarian) — have been invited to participate on the page.
“I would be more than happy to explain them, but they can say where they stand,” he said. “They can say, ‘This is what I feel. This is how it will affect Kootenay-Columbia.’ … I’ve been very clear with the candidates that I’m not creating a debate forum.”
The page’s followers are also invited to ask questions and post concerns about what interests them most.
“The only way democracy can function in Canada is if people find something that does interest them and get involved,” Falconer said. “We have daycare, jobs, servicemen overseas — there’s something for everyone.”
Falconer has a unique perspective on one issue. His father, David (most recently principal at Canyon-Lister Elementary School), was a Chilean political refugee with a Jewish background — and as a Canadian eligible for citizenship in Chile and Israel, he’s looked closely into Bill C-24, the most controversial topic that’s been discussed on his page.
“I think people have been very surprised at how far-reaching it is,” he said. “I think people are concerned that if they’re eligible for other citizenship, it puts their own Canada citizenship in jeopardy.”
The Syrian refugee crisis is another current topic that has created a lot of discussion on Just the Issues.
The page’s followers have expressed their appreciation to Falconer for creating a forum to interact with the candidates and other voters.
“It’s very much bringing Ottawa to the local level,” he said. “They really want to feel a local Kootenay person is representing us.”
And by helping voters to identify and explore the issues, it helps them become emotionally engaged — hopefully to the point where they get out and vote.
“I don’t think people fully appreciate what we have here in the democratic system,” he said. “Not voting, in a very real way, is the same as voting. You’re just letting someone else vote for you.”