Federal election a chance for candidates to learn issues

Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce to host local candidates ahead of 2021 federal election.

Bruce Williams, Victoria Chamber CEO
Bruce Williams, CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber is partnering with our community partners to host candidate listening sessions for the four ridings in Greater Victoria. These are planned for Sept. 14-16, and anyone can tune in to The Chamber’s Facebook page to watch. We chose to hold them the week before general election day on September 20, so parties will have had a chance to unveil their full platforms and policies. Our panels will also be after the national leaders debates, which often affect popular opinion and create a buzz among the general public.

We’ve invited candidates running in Greater Victoria who represent parties with seats in the House of Commons. Rather than focusing primarily on candidates espousing party platforms, we want them to listen to issues identified by community leaders. The idea is to ensure they understand challenges facing our region and how government can be part of a solution. That way, whoever wins the riding can get to work as soon as their sworn in.

We’ve found previous versions of this type of event to be a much better use of everyone’s time. The old-school approach to all-candidates meetings often covered topics on a superficial level, and candidates weren’t able to learn specific issues and the work being done to address them. These days there are so many ways for candidates to connect directly with voters. Social media makes it simple to share information over the Internet, and people can easily find information on candidates’ qualifications and their party’s platforms.

What is left out is the work done between elections. Community organizations don’t stop advocating for ways to make our region better. Our members want to know that the work we’re doing will continue without having to start from scratch if someone new is elected or a different party forms government. It’s important to build that relationship with all candidates who might win the seat, so they know what’s needed to keep building good business and a great community for all.

Our region is much better off if when we have stronger connections between decision makers and the community they represent. We believe this approach will allow for more efficient governance overall.

What partners are taking part and what are their issues? 

We’re once again working with the Vancouver Island Construction Association, Destination Greater Victoria, the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, the Downtown Victoria Business Association, the Urban Development Institute and others, depending on the riding.

The issues will vary depending on riding, but will definitely include affordable housing, safe communities and support for tourism. We also want to focus on a few of the fundamentals we’re working on with the national chamber network: How do candidates plan to finish the fight against COVID-19? How will their party move away from a subsidized economy and promote private sector growth? What is their vision for investing in innovative opportunities that our region will need to thrive in the 21st century?

The Chamber will host the meetings and I will serve as moderator. It won’t be the same as previous in-person events, but we’ve had 18 months to perfect our virtual events and I’m proud at how effective they are. I look forward to having everyone who cares about business join us to learn more about where candidates stand on issues important to our community.

Greater Victoria Listening Sessions

  • Victoria: September 14, noon
  • Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke: September 14, 3 pm
  • Saanich-Gulf Islands: September 15, 12:30 pm
  • Cowichan-Malahat-Langford: September 16, noon

Bruce Williams is the CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. Since 1863, The Chamber has served Greater Victoria by working together to build good business and great community through advocacy, networking, professional development and innovative services as changing times require. Find out more at VictoriaChamber.ca.

Further reading:

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