On Sept. 20, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and SUCCESS are co-hosting Election 2015 Townhall. The Conservative, Liberal, New Democrat and Green parties have been invited to have a representative answer community members’ questions.
“Although the parties are well aware of the broad topics to be covered at the forum, neither the parties nor their candidates will be told the questions beforehand,” Jason Murray, chair of CIJA Pacific Region Local Partners Council, told the Independent. “It’s important to note that the townhall is not a debate, but an important opportunity to hear candidates address issues important to the communities served by SUCCESS and CIJA. The event will be open to the press.”
The selection of the representatives has been left up to the parties, said Murray, “with the only requirement being that the candidate is nominated in a Metro Vancouver riding.”
The broad topics – immigration, employment, seniors’ care, security and the economy – are just some of the issues in which CIJA and SUCCESS share an interest, said Murray. The partnership in organizing the townhall, he said, “allows us to gain strength with greater numbers, bringing together our communities to advocate with candidates seeking office. Working together allows us opportunities to view these issues from each other’s perspectives.”
This is not the first time that SUCCESS has worked with the Jewish community.
“SUCCESS and CIJA’s predecessor, the Canadian Jewish Congress, have a long history of collaborating on civic engagement programs, including townhall-style events around municipal, provincial and federal elections,” said Murray. “Professional and volunteer leaders from SUCCESS and CIJA have continued to collaborate between elections, particularly in helping each other nurture advocacy efforts. We hope to continue to build on what we see as a solid foundation and to continue to bring together SUCCESS and our Federation and Federation’s partner agencies.”
“Both CIJA and SUCCESS are nonprofit and non-partisan organizations that are dedicated to improving the quality of life of newcomers in Canada by advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s communities,” Queenie Choo, chief executive officer of SUCCESS, told the Independent. “We have commonalities and strong values in these areas. Hence, it is a perfect fit as partners in this event.”
SUCCESS has sponsored other townhalls and information sessions, said Choo. “We have done it in the past for provincial and municipal pre-election forums. At this point, we are focusing on this townhall opportunity to ensure people are informed of the party positions on our topics, such as immigrants, seniors, housing, employment and security. It is also part of our mandates on promoting civil education and responsibility.”
Choo explained, “SUCCESS is one of the largest nonprofit social service agencies in B.C. that provide services for immigrants, seniors and people who need affordable housing. The topics of focus at this townhall really support our mission – one that builds bridges, harvests diversity and fosters integration through service and advocacy. Through this event, we hope to gain a better understanding of each party’s position on these subject matters, advancing our mission in these three key areas going forward.”
She added, “It is important that people are well informed of the positions and platform represented by each party in order to vote for what they believe in. People are encouraged to vote and be able to elect the party that can best represent them and their community.”
“In advocacy,” said Murray, “there is no substitute for in-person engagement. The Jewish community is a relatively small community in Canada and, particularly, in British Columbia. Through more intensive involvement in the political world – whether volunteering, serving as party activists, or running for office – Canadian Jews can make a disproportionate impact beyond the ballot box.
Community members must send their questions in advance to [email protected]. The Election 2015 Townhall takes place Sept. 20, 2:30 p.m., at Choi Hall (SUCCESS main offices), 28 Pender St.