British Columbia

Game-show politics: Last Candidate Standing invites all 92 Vancouver hopefuls to debate

With so many mayoral and council candidates to choose from in Vancouver's upcoming municipal election, it can be tricky to hear from all civic hopefuls — but that's the very premise of Last Candidate Standing.

Organizers hope to capture diversity of voices running

The format for last candidate standing is designed to let all candidates have a chance to participate in a game show-styled debate. (Vancouver Public Space Network)

It's part game show and part politics — and this year, it's the biggest version of the all-candidate election debate yet.

With so many mayoral and council candidates to choose from in Vancouver's upcoming municipal election, it can be tricky to hear from all civic hopefuls — but that's the premise of Last Candidate Standing.  

"We run them through bit of a game show style of questioning and elimination," said Paola Qualizza, chair of Vancouver Public Space Network, which is co-producing the event.

"Questions are being asked by a panel of journalists that we call 'the panel of inquisition.'"

Sixty mayoral and council candidates are expected to attend the event, out of the 21 running for mayor and 71 for councillor.

Open invitation 

Last Candidate Standing is not the only candidate debate happening ahead of voting day on Oct. 20 — CBC is hosting mayoral debates in Vancouver and Surrey, for example.

But those don't include every single candidate, for several reasons — from time constraints to some candidates lacking a record of civic engagement.

For Qualizza, inviting all the candidates to the debate is crucial.

"We really value the diversity of all the people that actually do sign up and put a nomination forward to become a candidate in these elections," she told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition.

"We want to bring that inclusivity to the election debate format."

Scheduling challenge

But organizing a debate with so many people doesn't come without challenges.

"We've been running the math and trying to figure out the best schedule to get them all on stage and to cut them down over the event that still gives everyone a chance and doesn't eliminate too many people too quickly," Qualizza said.

"We have a few tricks up our sleeve to keep candidates within a one- or two-minute time limit."

The event is meant to be lively, but Qualizza said there are strict guidelines about heckling from the audience.

"It takes a lot of courage to not only run for office but to get on stage and speak to a full theatre of people," she said.

"We do want to keep the event really positive."

Event details

Last Candidate Standing is happening at the Imperial Theatre on Oct. 3, starting at 6 p.m. PT.

CBC and UBC are hosting mayoral debates in Surrey on Oct. 9 at the Newton Cultural Centre, and in Vancouver on Oct. 17 at CBC Vancouver downtown.  

With files from The Early Edition

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