If a man is asked, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?’ ……… he will be doomed no matter which way he answers. YES, and he’s admitting he had in fact been beating his wife.  NO, and he’s saying he did beat his wife, in the past, and is in fact still doing so.  But, in truth, the man did not ever, and is not presently beating his wife.

‘Answer a fool according to his folly.  Answer not a fool according to his folly.’  Some questions are wrapped in dynamite, – Yes or No will blow up in your face.

It’s all normal in the devious world of lawyer-speak, but should not have been the norm at the Tuesday evening all-candidates meeting at City Hall.

Justin Goodrich needs to take some serious lessons on being a moderator.  Way too many of the questions put to the candidates were complex questions.  To demand a Yes or No answer to complex, and even to two-part questions was ridiculous.

We were told to answer a hypothetical question about whether or no we’d have approved or denied the Abbotsford Community Services proposed low-barrier housing.  Well, many of us opposed that 22 bed housing because it was in the C7 zoning, not because we oppose providing housing for needy people.  That zoning is what finally allowed small business to feel safe enough to invest their own time, labour and money into revitalizing the downtown core.

The core was a dump before that C7 zoning, so to remove that protection left the downtown vulnerable to more social service providers.  The core needs to keep, and attract, more money-generationg business.  Altering the C7 protection would discourage private investment and renewal in old Abbotsford……again.

But Mr. Goodrich forced a one-word answer that painted people into a corner they did not deserve to be in.

Another complex question, that cannot be answered in a simplistic Yes/No……If voted in would you follow your own moral conscience or vote the will of the people you represent.  All Abbotsford City councillors represent all of our municipality. How on earth in that diverse group of Abbotsfordians would anyone be able to decree just what ‘the will of the people’  is on any matter before council?  If you vote a declared Christian into office, you should expect a Christian moral compass to guide that politician, insofar as the issue being voted on has a clear moral impact on the city. You should expect truth to be the most valued attribute of all leaders in any case.

All candidates run proclaiming their personal suitability for office.  They are Christians or Buddhist or Muslim or Jew or pagan or atheist or agnostic or hockey worshippers,……..whatever.  But they advertise themselves as having defined character traits.

So for example, if I say that I am a Christian BEFORE I get elected to public office, surely on any matter of moral significance people would know that my faith will guide all my decisions, just as the pagan would be expected to vote, guided by their peculiar ‘inner’ man.  No human being is neutral, unless they’re in a vegetative state, and you should not believe the person who assures you he/she has no bias.  It is for a good leader to step back and recognize their own bias and determine whether or not the issue demands clear secular objectivity, or whether there is a moral component as well.

So Justin Goodrich makes 30 people do a singsong of Yes/No to profoundly complex questions.  We were all wrong to allow intelligent discussion to be so highjacked by banality.

Goodrich allowed a long harangue against Tina Stewart, from an audience member.  Then he gave Tina half a minute to examine a sheaf of papers purportedly backing those accusations. To her credit Tina gave a sterling response.  But it was not sterling of the moderator to allow that incident to dominate for five minutes.

Some complex and confusing ramblings from the floor were then posed as legitimate questions to the candidates.  It ended with Mr. Goodrich allowing a candidate – Tim Felger to come to the microphone and demand that his fellow candidates give a Yes/No response to a complex question – from him….from Tim!  When Goodrich agreed to this nonsense, the candidates had had enough and rebelled, so that only a few of the thirty people up there co-operated with the final Yes/No game.

This all candidates evening left a lot to be desired.  Send Justin to moderator school.

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