KINBURN – The Arnprior Region Federation of Agriculture (ARFA) will host all five federal candidates at a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the Kinburn Community Centre.
ARFA is one of 52 county and regional federations supported by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture across the province.
“ARFA represents the voice of agriculture in the local community and advocates on behalf of farm families in Arnprior (and West Carleton) on local agricultural issues,” the federation says on its website.
ARFA has a long history of hosting election all-candidates meetings in West Carleton. ARFA secretary/treasurer Susan Dicks, who is also a Torbolton Ridge resident, spoke with West Carleton Online about the all-candidates meeting that gets underway at 7 p.m.
“I have lived in the area for 20 years and I have never had a politician knock on my door,” she said. “I think you’re going to find a lot of the country roads and dead-end roads are in the same boat.”
It’s a problem faced by many rural residents. The Kanata-Carleton riding, which changed its boundaries in 2015, has a population of 100,846 (2011) with 78,431 voters. Most of them live in the large urban part of the riding in Kanata (there are around 25,000 living in West Carleton) which means it is easier for candidates to canvas in the denser communities. It also means candidates set their attention on the issues of Kanata during election time.
The ARFA debate will be a chance for the rural West Carleton communities to have their voices heard and their questions answered as the election campaigns hit high gear as September closes.
“We get the flyers in the mail, but to have them and meet them in one evening is one-stop shopping,” Dicks said.
And it’s a chance to shine the spotlight on agriculture and rural issues, but not exclusively.
“A lot of the candidates aren’t up to date on what’s going on in the industry and what the farming issues are,” Dicks said. “It’s a pretty big riding and the riding is a mix of agriculture and hi-tech industries. We will cover a wide variety of topics.”
Dicks says these ARGA-hosted all-candidates meetings are an important part of their work as a special interest organization.
“It’s very important to us that people have the opportunity hear from the candidate,” she said.
The format will allow the candidates to introduce themselves to the audience and talk a bit about their party’s platforms and then answer pre-written questions from those in attendance.
“Typically, what we do is more of a question and answer than debate,” Dicks said. “We just found there are times it can turn in to a shouting match if we are not careful. This way it’s a lot more civil.”
The evening will be moderated by ARFA member Brian Hamilton.