Length of interviews prompts Chamber to cut controversial questions

By Mark Pare

It was a matter of time.

That from Cambridge Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Greg Durocher, into why interviews conducted on municipal election candidates were sliced down.

But it was the choice of which questions were omitted that has caught the eye of some.

Last month, a list obtained by 570 NEWS showed that the Chamber was asking some controversial questions, such as: Do you believe in a supreme being?,  Is this your first marriage? and their opinion on how they felt the Catholic church handled the sex abuse scandal.

“The main reason we cut the interviews down is because simply, they were too long,” Durocher tells The Mike Farwell Show, “Each of them were a minimum 40 minutes in length and some of them much longer than that.”

When the videos were released by the Chamber over the weekend — in a series of videos on YouTube — those questions were nowhere to be found, in favour of a more standard line of questioning like: Why are you running?  What work have you done in the field of community service?  What qualifies you to manage a $130 million budget?

He says they consulted members of the media, as well as online video experts for help on cutting down the videos and the controversial questioning simply didn't make the cut.

“One of the comments from them was 'We can't even get people to watch a three minute video of a squirrel that can water ski, so how are you going to get people to watch these?'” Durocher adds.

(To test the theory, CLICK HERE for a video on a squirrel water skiing.)

He adds the questions on why they're running and their closing comments had to be included, and they filled the rest of the void with one or two other questions to fill the 3-8 minute video.

But when prompted again about why specific queries were taken out, Durocher circled back to the timing issue, noting the answers some gave were “incredibly long” and “told incredible stories.”

The line of questioning also caused an uproar among some candidates, with many of them declining their chance to be interviewed or having their answers published.

Durocher says timing is also the reason why they're not offering a second chance to those candidates.

“It took two weeks to arrange the original interviews, it took (another) two weeks to do the original interviews and really, time was not our friend,” he said.

“We simply couldn't offer an opportunity for people to come back in.”

Looking back, Durocher says he's happy with the format and says there's “no question about it” when it comes to doing the same thing for the 2022 municipal elections.

However, he admits “we should've done a better job of some of the questioning, no doubt about that.”

In the end, he maintains while the controversial questions wouldn't fly in a job interview, running for office is different.

“These folks aren't going after a job,” Durocher said, “These folks are asking for one of the most precious things that were entitled to under a democracy, and that's our vote.”

And he says asking out-of-the-box questions is in an effort to get the attention of voters, to try and improve a voter turnout that hovered around 30 per cent in Waterloo Region four years ago.

CLICK HERE to listen to the full interview conducted Tuesday, October 16.

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