Saint John-Rothesay is a riding where poverty plays a prominent role. Although numbers have improved, at almost 29 per cent, the child poverty rate is among the highest in the country.
“Saint John-Rothesay is one of ten ridings in the province that had the lowest voter turnout rate in the last election,” said Randy hatfield of the Human Development Council. “In fact it has had the lowest voter turnout rate of any of the ten provincial ridings for the federal house in the last three elections.”
As a result, an event took place on Wednesday featuring federal riding candidates answering a number of predetermined questions. They ranged from from poverty and immigration to youth education and training, and the charitable and non-profit sectors.
The event is meant to encourage people to exercise their franchise.
However, the format didn’t allow for a back and forth between candidates or questions from the floor which clearly was discouraging for some in attendance.
Penni Eisenhauer wanted to hear about what she called barriers facing people with a criminal record.
“There’s policy pieces around that that could be addressed that would probably change some people’s ability to actually access employment and other opportunities,” she said.
Others felt candidates just spewed typical comments without questions from the floor.
“This is what the platform is, this is what I’ve done,” said David Burgess. “This is the same old stuff I could be sitting at home on my Facebook and get more information and less harass to get it.”
By the end of the event, organizers agreed that they can do better and revisit the format of how it was presented.
“I think those that attended today had an opportunity to hear a voice,” said Hatfield. “Rather than read campaign literature they probably heard campaign literature. So that’s an improvement but it’s not the best answer yet”
Voters in all ridings head to the polls October 21st.