Undemocratic Actions of the Chamber of Commerce
Date: Tuesday, June 22 2004
Candidates denied equal access to speak
Surrey BC – The local Chamber of Commerce in the federal riding of Surrey North has drawn the ire of two registered candidates for their refusal to allow equal access. Joyce Holmes of the Communist Party, and Roy Tyler Whyte of the Canadian Action Party were refused a seat at the advertised ‘all candidates’ meeting held by the Surrey Chamber of Commerce and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board.
The ‘all candidate meeting’ was held on the 21st of June with a business-aimed theme. No invite was extended to the ‘fringe’ candidates because the Chamber believed, “your parties don’t have anything of substance to add on a business front.” “The organizer of the event, felt that Communists have nothing useful to say to the business community but that is far from the truth,” Holmes says.
The Canadian Action Party is the only party that has a foundation of its platform set around trade and monetary reform as its main pillars. “What is more business oriented than that? To be denied equal access from a group that obviously knows nothing about CAP and our platform was both frustrating and outrageous”, says Whyte.
After having dozens of supporters call in support for Whyte to the Chamber of Commerce they initially relented and offered a spot on the panel. Although, when the time came for the meeting, Whyte was told, “we only asked you here to tell you in person that you cannot take part.” No other explanation was given. Whyte came prepared for that and started handing out leaflets spelling out the actions of the SCC.
More disturbing was the inaction of the other candidates. Knowing that Whyte and Holmes had been denied equal access, they said nothing on their behalf initially. Only after the questions were over and the ending candidate summations were taking place did Liberal candidate Dan Sheel speak up so that Holmes and Whyte could address the crowd.
Holmes and Whyte both gave impassioned speeches, which brought the house to a standstill. Members of the community and even supporters of the other candidates rallied to the side of Holmes and Whyte and gave their appreciation for their stand on democracy and equal access.
“In the end, I was probably given more exposure and gained more momentum by being denied than having been granted access as promised. People of the riding saw first hand how I will not take no for an answer and how I feel about our democracy and the right of both the candidate and the constituent to speak and hear all voices equally so they may form their own opinions,” Whyte says. Unfortunately these types of actions are taking place all across Canada against the small parties. Whether it is the media cold shoulder or being denied equal access at candidate meetings, our democracy is still under threat.
CONTACT: Kevin Peck