Arlene Phillips, North Bay OPS Toastmasters incoming Secretary, used her Toastmasters leadership skills to organize a very impactful all candidates debate in North Bay in the week prior to the provincial election.
The event was sponsored by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union’s (OPSEU’s) Vote Better Campaign and the target audience was OPSEU members and their families. Ken Steinbrunner, OPSEU local 642 President, provided opening remarks.
As the Vote Better Campaign Mobilizer for North Bay, Arlene’s challenge was to host a public debate with the riding’s provincial candidates that included an opportunity for each candidate to speak, respond individually to audience questions asked by moderators, and debate issues with one another. Moderators were Natalie Rondeau, Vote Better Mobilizer, Sudbury and Jamie Kensley, We Own it Mobilizer. Melanie Alkins, North Bay OPS Toastmasters incoming Sergeant-at-Arms, played an important role as timer and also photographed the event. Five of the six local candidates accepted the invitation.
Nipissing candidates Vic Fedeli -Conservative Stephen Glass - Liberal, Trevor Holliday - Northern Ontario Party, Kris Rivard – Green Party, Henri Giroux – NDP, absent Bond Keevil – Libertarian
Candidate questions focused on public services and were specific to North Bay and Northern Ontario concerns. This was a one-of-a-kind event for the city where local voters could hear directly from most candidates in the Nipissing riding.
The event was a runaway success with about seventy people in attendance, almost double the number expected!
With four media outlets participating, the debate had print, TV and radio coverage. To quote the North Bay Nugget, Arlene explained “What we’re trying to do is get a higher percentage of our members out and voting. From my point of view, I get to vote for my employer. This is such a unique opportunity. When I go to the polls, I want to make an educated vote. And that’s important for the people of Ontario as well as the people across OPSEU.”
Despite an exchange described as “heated” between several candidates, Arlene is to be commended for her role in running a very informative, orderly and respectful event!
Submitted by Sandy Bell-Murray
Photo credits, Mel Alkins