Last night, B.C. Liberal candidates gathered at a downtown Vancouver hotel to give short speeches, chat with potential supporters, and not hold any real policy debates.
There's a reason why they aren't debating in public. They don't want the B.C. NDP to do to them what the Harper Conservatives did to former federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion.
In 2006, the federal Liberals held a series of debates across the country to stimulate interest in their leadership race.
The Conservatives grabbed clips from these debates to ridicule Dion and highlight divisions between Liberals.
Conservative ad attacking Stephane Dion
It's safe to debate on radio—there are no campaign strategists lurking in the studio surreptitiously videotaping the proceedings. But few politicians are in the mood to be carved up like Dion by arguing the issues in a public place where there might be a camera present.
If the B.C. NDP follows the B.C. Liberal model and avoids holding candidate debates in a public venue, it will diminish interest in the political process in B.C.
That could lead to even lower voter turnout in the future.