Across the street from Blue Ocean Golf Club at the time of the Sechelt and District Chamber of Commerce Sept. 13 all-candidates meeting, People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Doug Bebb had a tent and campaign signs set up.
Although initially invited to the debate, the Sechelt chamber informed Bebb it would be enforcing proof of vaccination requirements as per the public health order, which came into effect the same day as the event. Bebb said he did not believe the public health order applied to political events and that it was being misapplied to the all-candidates meeting.
“I want it to be known that we’re here in the area and that we’re available for debate and we’re being excluded. Our presence here shows we’re not a no-show,” Bebb said.
Independent candidate Terry Grimwood also went to the venue ahead of the debate, but he had not been invited to participate. Chamber chair John Henderson said the police were notified and attended when Grimwood made some “extreme” remarks.
Grimwood acknowledged he was “animated” and “forceful” when speaking to Henderson, but added that he waited outside for the police and wanted it to be on the record that he had been denied the ability to participate.
Grimwood said he was upset because although he has had both vaccinations and proof of immunization, he was also not permitted to attend the event in person, as he is not a member of the chamber. He also took issue with the chamber inviting candidates before the nomination period closed but billing the event as an all-candidates meeting.
Henderson told Coast Reporter four candidates were not involved in the event for different reasons, but had other options to get their message out.
“The PPC candidate is open that he’s not been vaccinated, so he could not come in under public health office regulations. And then the board of the chamber took the view that we wanted to hear from the remaining national parties,” Henderson said.
The Sechelt chamber had originally invited the five candidates who had declared their candidacy when the event was being organized. Grimwood, Gordon Jeffrey for the Rhinoceros Party and independent Chris MacGregor were later confirmed by Elections Canada on Sept. 1.
With advance polls having closed on Sept. 13, Election Day on Sept. 20 will be the last opportunity to cast a vote.