Queenie Choo, chief executive officer of SUCCESS (photo from SUCCESS), and Jacob Switzer, member of CIJA’s Local Partners Council (photo from CIJA Pacific Region), spoke with the Independent about the upcoming townhall April 2.
Immigration, security, inclusivity and affordability are among the subjects to be addressed at the April 2 Provincial Pre-election Townhall.
The townhall is being presented by SUCCESS and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). SUCCESS chief executive officer Queenie Choo told the Independent, “The topics were determined based on … dialogue between the two organizations.”
“We wanted to find topics that were of relevance and concern for both sets of constituents, as well as current,” said Jacob Switzer, a lay leader involved in planning the event, as a member of CIJA’s Local Partners Council. Culturally sensitive care for seniors, and accessibility and transportation will also be covered.
Scheduled to participate in the discussion as of press time were Michael Lee, B.C. Liberals candidate, Vancouver-Langara; George Chow, B.C. NDP candidate, Vancouver-Fraserview; and Michael Markwick, Green Party candidate, West Vancouver-Capilano. The townhall will take place at Choi Hall, SUCCESS Social Service Centre, 28 West Pender St.
“The event will allow our community to hear from its potential political leaders and learn about their views, as well as engage politically,” said Switzer. “It also lets us tailor questions to issues that are of specific importance to our respective communities, which often overlap and which may not be as central a concern in other forums.”
About SUCCESS, he added, “we have very much enjoyed cooperating with them, both on this event and in the past.”
“It has always been our mandate to support integration of newcomers to our Canadian communities, as well as helping them to understand the rights and responsibilities of being a Canadian citizen, particularly in the civic responsibility,” said Choo. “As such, SUCCESS and CIJA have taken a leadership role to host this pre-election townhall to ensure we have an opportunity for the community to understand the positions each political party holds on the key areas of our interest. This will help voters in making an informed decision on May 9.”
“One of the key discussion points for the event will be community security and the apparent rise in bigotry and hate crimes, which is a highly current issue,” said Switzer. “We expect that both of our communities will want to hear about what policies are being considered to improve these issues and we anticipate questions from the floor around security (particularly in light of the recent bomb threats to the Vancouver Jewish Community Centre).”
With respect to the seeming rise in expressions of bigotry and hatred, Choo said, “Through the townhall, I am sure this issue will surface. It is important for the community to hear what are the directions or policies in addressing discrimination and racism from each political party. We would also like to hear how our future government will uphold our shared values of inclusion and diversity.”
The format of the event will be that of “a non-debate-style townhall,” said Switzer. “Each participant will be given a brief period for initial remarks (order is set by draw) and then will have the opportunity to answer the questions that we are already receiving via email or phone call. All will be given time to answer the same question so they can present their party’s perspectives. They will have another period to share any final comments with the audience.
“We have found that this format works well with the candidates and allows for a respectful and organized interaction among themselves and the public.”
The pre-submitted questions will be facilitated by a moderator at the townhall, noted Choo.
“This event is open to the public and free of charge,” she added. And the hope, she said, is “to engage as many people as possible, as it is important to understand what are the directions the next government will hold, especially on our important topics.”
“We are co-hosting this event with our friends at SUCCESS because we believe that joining forces with partners in other communities can only strengthen us,” said Switzer. “We are looking forward to a well-attended and meaningful event.”
The townhall will run 2:30-4:30 p.m. on April 2. To submit questions on the aforementioned topics for any party candidate, email [email protected] with the subject line “Provincial Pre-election Townhall Question.”