MP David Wilks rejects NDP debate challenge

MP for Kootenay-Columbia rejects challenge issued by NDP to hold eight debates throughout riding during upcoming election campaign.

David Wilks is the MP for Kootenay-Columbia.

David Wilks is the MP for Kootenay-Columbia.

The MP for Kootenay-Columbia has rejected a challenge issued by his NDP rival to hold eight debates throughout the riding during the upcoming election campaign.

David Wilks, the Conservative MP who has represented the riding since 2011, said he wasn’t interested in forming a committee that would arrange debates in the riding’s eight major communities — Revelstoke, Cranbrook, Nelson, Golden, Kimberley, Invermere, Fernie and Creston.

While Wilks did respond to the Review’s request for comment on the NDP challenge, he did speak to our sister paper the Nelson Star.

“The NDP candidate can regurgitate issues from 2011 if he likes,” he said. “I am living in 2015 and will continue to work for the constituency as I have for the past four years and will not concern myself with what happened then.”

Wilks was referring to criticism he only attended three of seven debates in 2011.

He also downplayed the usefulness of all-candidate debates. “For the most part, those that come to all-candidate forums have made up their minds who they are voting for, and as a result of that, the candidates normally know who is coming to the mic, what the question will be, and who it is directed toward,” he said. “That is what you can expect from the all-candidates forums.”

Liberal candidate Don Johnston said he welcomed the NDP request to set up eight debates, while Green Party candidate upped the ante, proposing three additional debates in Salmo, Kaslo and Crawford Bay.