Freedom Conservative Candidate Chad Miller stands to answer a question during the Candidate Forum on April 4. There was six candidate present for the forum, with one unable to attend. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake candidates gather to answer diverse questions at forum

The candidate forum was held by the Chamber of Commerce on April 4

From hot button issues like the carbon tax, to health care and government accountability, the Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Election Forum covered a lot of ground.

Roughly 200 people came out to the NexSource Centre Thursday night to hear from their candidates in the provincial election on issues that matter to them.

Six of the seven candidates running for election were at the forum on April 4. Present was Devin Dreeshen, UCP; Danielle Klooster, Alberta Party; Chad Miller, Freedom Conservative Party; Robyn O’Brien, NDP; Ed Wychopen, Independent and Brian Vanderkley, Alberta Advantage Party.

The only candidate unable to attend the forum was Lauren Thorsteinson, Reform Party of Alberta.

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The residents and the Chamber did not hold any punches, putting the candidates on the spot for some pretty tough questions.

Keri Pratt, president of the Chamber of Commerce, said the questions specifically asked by the Chamber were not easy, and the audience didn’t let in any easy ones either.

“These are the issues that matter to the people, so I was happy to see such a diverse grouping of topics,” Pratt said.

Questions were submitted by the audience members present as well as a few that came in electronically in advance. Before the audience questions began, the Chamber asked a series of questions of their own.

These questions focused on business and the economy, transportation and infrastructure and improving the government’s accountability.

The Chamber, according to Pratt, is also concerned about the election outcome and wanted questions of their own answered.

“I loved that it was such a wide range of questions, that it wasn’t just focused on one topic,” Pratt said, adding there was a great diversification of questions asked.

Pratt says it is important to gather to candidates together so the residents of the area have the chance to ask as many as possible the important questions.

“I loved having so many of the candidates out tonight and their involvement … It was great to see the turn out and the public’s supporting coming to this and hearing what the candidates’ answers were to some of their questions,” Pratt said.

The forum, held by the Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce, offers residents the chance to have their concerns heard in a safe manner, Pratt says.

Because the Chamber hosts the forum, as well as candidate forums for the municipal and federal elections, they are able to offer the candidates a non-biased platform to speak to the residents as well.

“We provide that non partisan, safe point of view that is a safe, equal playing ground and everyone can come here and voice their party’s opinions without any judgment.”

Pratt hopes those who came out to the forum were able to get the answers they were looking for.

For those who were unable to attend the forum, the Chamber of Commerce live streamed the event on their Facebook page, @SylvanLakeChamber, and it is still available to view.

The provincial general election is held on April 16, with Advance Polls open from April 9-13.

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