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LETTER: Conservative candidate questions his exclusion from Nelson CETA forum

Dear Editor,

Recently, a local chapter of the Council of Canadians invited me to speak at a forum about CETA.  The forum will play host to our current MP as a speaker as well as MP Peter Julian, the NDP’s International Trade Critic.

 

Shortly after that invitation, various editors throughout the BC Southern Interior ran a letter I wrote criticizing our current MP’s apparent lack of knowledge about CETA.

 

Within moments, it seems, of my letter being published, my invitation to attend the event was rescinded because the planned CETA forum is supposedly not a political forum and my invite status was changed to audience member instead.

 

I guess I am a little confused.  My understanding is that the Council of Canadians exists for political reasons. Given that our current federal representative in this area is NDP, while the current federal government in Canada is Conservative, it seems to me that the opinion of the nominated federal Conservative candidate in this area would be welcomed rather than silenced.

 

At one point in my communications with Ms. Sandra Nelken of the Council of Canadians, I was told, “It would be great if I could attend and that I would be a very brave man to do so.”  Sounds highly political to me.  Later, I received a different communication.  Ms. Nelken wrote, “This is to advise that you will not be included in the panel for the CETA Forum on Friday, February 11th as I may have led you to believe.  Because this is not a political forum, it has been decided that you are welcome to attend as part of the audience where you can participate in the question and answer portion.”

 

I wish the Council of Canadians all the best as they host this fully one-sided discussion of this major national initiative and I sincerely hope that the one-sided nature of the presentation does an adequate job of representing an issue that will affect all Canadians.

 

Sincerely,

 

Stephen Hill
Conservative Candidate
BC Southern Interior