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Candidates' event to help determine Labour Council endorsements

'I was surprised about the sincerity. They didn't hold back, even if it wasn't the answer that we wanted to hear. That goes for privatization, long-term care or any of the issues that we asked about.'

With 29 candidates vying for 10 North Bay City Council seats, North Bay & District Labour Council President Henri Giroux knew any candidates' event held in advance of the October 24 municipal elections would have to veer slightly from the norm in order to include and accommodate the robust slate.

Hence the idea for a "Labour Cafe" gathering at the OPSEU office on First Avenue West, Monday evening, with the 21 candidates in attendance placed in small groups at five different tables and Labour Council members and community stakeholders asking three questions and rotating to each station in 20-minute intervals with breaks in between for refreshments.

"We asked questions pertaining to the last terms of city council and also what the candidates foresee happening in this next term," explained Giroux. 

Any endorsement of a candidate will come "from the overall view of the Labour Council," Giroux says. "We've learned stuff from them and I think they learned stuff from us. I know some of the questions had candidates openly asking why that question was included as if they were unaware it was happening."

By the end of the evening, the candidates in attendance had the opportunity to answer the same 15 questions, with a focus on public services, privatization, community safety and well-being, health care, social justice, inclusion, climate change, infrastructure, and the economy.

"At our next meeting on Monday, the Labour Council will get together and we're going to look at all the information we gathered and will come up with some endorsements of some of the candidates that we feel will best represent our views and agenda."

Giroux, who participated as one of the rotating table moderators says the candidates spoke candidly in this cafe format and some were brutally honest about their stance on the issues. Overall, he was pleased to find an alternative to what could have been an unruly debate in the traditional format.

"I was surprised about the sincerity," he says. "They didn't hold back, even if it wasn't the answer that we wanted to hear. That goes for privatization, long-term care or any of the issues that we asked about."

Giroux says the Labour Council often identifies and endorses candidates based on debates and other interview-style questionnaires. As the organization represents the district, it often endorses candidates from several municipalities within its coverage area. All 29 candidates running in North Bay were invited.

Candidates will be vetted at Monday's meeting and some follow-up will take place. "We look at progressive candidates to endorse," he says, "but the endorsement also involves us making sure they do what they say they are going to do once elected. We've made endorsements before and people just turn right after. We will keep them accountable, in part, by their answers tonight."

Giroux, an experienced election candidate himself, wishes the candidates the best of luck and has one piece of advice he says could turn the tide for any of the 29 seeking one of those 10 seats.

"They're not going to come to you," he advises. "You have to go to them. It's by knocking on doors that people are going to recognize who you are."

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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