Having just attended an all candidates forum at the Caledonia School, several facts became apparent. The first thing I wanted to stress is that I was pleased to note the diversity of the candidates. The mix of old and new was encouraging, and the unity of ideals seemed to emphasis that candidates were united in their goals. The central theme was one of concern for the level of funding received from the provincial government. Everyone acknowledged the problems with the structuring of funding for special needs children . I for one was not aware of the gap between the actual amount of funding received, verses funding spent to accommodate this question. It would seem that the current board are to be commended for overstepping the bounds of provincial commitment verses the reality of cost for this program. The reality is that our board had the guts to commit to the funding of special needs, far and above the miserly pittance issued by the province. All candidates were tactful in their response but the underlying feeling was simply that the government continues to ignore the values that our community place on the needs and rights of all children.
I was also pleased to see that there seemed to be no self promotion of any candidates, instead there was unity in the recognition of the fact that the school funding question has reach a point whereby all members of our community are affected.
The emergence of Charlotte Guno as a potential trustee was seen as a timely incentive for the community to present the future as a opportunity for understanding and development of all members of society . She spoke slowly with an opening address that included a welcome in her own language to all attending. I thought that this was a positive sign of growth within the Terrace community. Art Erasmus spoke with the ease of a long time political voice, his answers were concise and well thought out. Hal Stedhan reminded me of an old time Jack Webster, he called a spade a spade and I wish that the allotment of time allowed his obvious zeal more expression. Roger Leclerc spoke with an direct link to the audience, he was articulate and clear in his points and presented himself with genuine concern. Ian Hayes presented a view that seemed to link the viability of modern communication as one of the most needed parts of a new board. Ian represents himself as the new alternative, yet his answers reinforced the overview of all candidates.
Lorrie Gowen seemed to spend the evening resigned to the fact that lack of parent support has evolved to the point were the programs most needing parents have become infact just another fund raising event. She seemed a candidate tired of the Status Quo and unable to offer any alternatives to the questions that beset our community.
Gary Turner is the perfect example of a man who’s sole purpose has been the betterment of his community. His exemplary level of service to the Thornhill students is very evident but I was left questioning his ability to accept the necessary interaction required of the new board of trustees.
The single most discerning fact that I took from this whole exercise was the fact that there were NO students in the audience. I would have thought that with issues of such importance affecting their lives they would have taken this opportunity to voice their opinions and show their concerns.
A voice of silence, is a voice ignored.