Some Kanata-Carleton candidates talk climate at environment debate last night

KANATA – Three of five Kanata-Carleton candidates attended an environment-themed debate in Kanata last night (Oct. 3), part of a nationwide program called 100 Debates on the Environment.

In fact, there were two debates in Ottawa last night registered with the program – the second taking place in Ottawa Centre. Ecology Ottawa hosted the Kanata-Carleton debate held at the Kanata Recreation Complex.

Both debates were filled to capacity with interested attendees, although the Ottawa-Centre event had room for many more people than Hall A in Kanata. It is reported more than 650 people showed up at the Ottawa Centre debate.

What wasn’t full, was the list of candidates in Kanata. Both Conservative Justina McCaffrey and Peoples Party of Canada candidate Scott Miller skipped the debate.

Green Party candidate Dr. Jennifer Purdy, NDP candidate Melissa Coenraad and Liberal candidate and incumbent Karen McCrimmon were there.

“These debates are about putting environmental issues – especially the climate crisis – at the forefront of public discussion at a critically important time,” Ecology Ottawa executive director Robb Barnes had said earlier. “Voters need to know where their candidates stand on environmental issues. It is no longer viable for parties or candidates to avoid this vitally important subject.” 

Ecology Ottawa is a volunteer-driven, non-profit organization working to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada.

As West Carleton Online was unable to attend last night’s event, Ecology Ottawa provides much of the reporting on the debate.

Purdy used her opening statement to point out the Green Party wants a 60 per cent green house gas reduction by 2030 – the most ambitious target of all parties and states “partisan crap” in parliament is not helping the environment. She said climate change must be taken seriously as a public health crisis as well.

“Water is sacred and should be recognized as a right,” Purdy said.

McCrimmon talked about the importance of investments in transit, nature conservation and protection of waterways.

“We need a credible, feasible plan that will actually take us there,” she said. “Liberals have improved ocean and land protection dramatically since 2015. We know this is important and we will continue to work to improve here.”

Coenraad said an NDP government would stop fossil fuel subsidies completely and reinvest that money in environmental measures. The NDP would create an environmental bill of rights to enshrine the right to a healthy environment.

“Nature doesn’t need our help,” Coenraad said. “It needs us to get out of the way so it can do what it does best.”

Air pollution is still the leading environmental cause of death in Canada. The Canadian Environmental Protection Act hasn’t been strengthened in 20 years. One attendee wanted to know “what will you do to protect Canadians from toxic substances?”

Purdy: “The best thing to do for public health is to take the climate crisis seriously. More than 7,000 Canadians died last year due to respiratory events tied to greenhouse gas activity.”

McCrimmon: “We want to improve bio monitoring and data collection. We need to better understand environmental risks so we can take stronger action.”

Coenraad: “We will strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, ban certain toxins and look into organic alternatives for things like pest control.”

Another question asked was what candidates will do to champion good food.

McCrimmon: “The government’s redesign of the Canada Food Guide has received rave reviews around the world. It emphasizes plant-based protein. Yet Conservatives want to move backward on this.”

Coenraad: “We need to get back to supporting local food production. The Kanata and Carp markets are great, but we need to encourage more of these, and more organic production. We also need to protect supply management.”

Purdy: “I want to congratulate the Liberals for following the evidence on the Canada Food Guide. With food, we need to focus on affordability for all. We can get there with a guaranteed livable income.”

One audience member thought the ideas were great but wanted to know how feasible they were.

Purdy: “The Greens will boost the corporate tax rates, close tax havens and stop fossil fuel subsidies to pay for promises.”

Coenraad: “The NDP won’t increase taxes for the average person but will increase taxes for the very rich. Also, we will make smart investments in worker retraining and climate adaptation.”

McCrimmon: “We want to address the climate threat, but we also know that without a healthy economy people won’t be willing to change. If you give people security, they will be more willing to make changes.”

A “local farmer” feeling the impacts of climate change wanted to know what candidates are doing to reach out to “climate deniers” in the agriculture fields.

Purdy: “for people who don’t believe in climate change, it’s not a helpful approach to slam people for not believing or understanding. They need to be spoken with respectfully, so they feel comfortable asking the question.”

Coenraad: “People need to better understand what change will look like for them. This will help people make transition to adapt to climate change in agriculture.”

McCrimmon: “Some people who deal with lots of risk, as in agriculture, may be reticent to take on more. Lots of us outside of the agricultural world don’t appreciate the risk that farmers carry.”

Discussion about Paris commitments, oil subsidies and pipelines had two candidates attacking the Liberal policy.

McCrimmon: “Emissions from TMX are factored in to a realistic climate plan. If we didn’t get our oil products to market, someone else would fill that need. Phasing our fossil fuels is a 20 to 30-year transition.”

Coenraad: “Declaring a climate emergency and then buying a pipeline is definitely a challenge. Pipeline money could have been invested in better ways.”

Purdy: “Buying a pipeline is deeply unethical. Failing to hit Paris targets is not about jobs, it’s about greed.”

School debate

our of five Kanata-Carleton candidates attended an all-candidates meeting at W. Erskine Johnston Public School in Kanata this morning. Courtesy Amanada Salinas/Twitter
Four of five Kanata-Carleton candidates attended an all-candidates meeting at W. Erskine Johnston Public School in Kanata this morning. Courtesy Amanada Salinas/Twitter

This morning (Oct. 4) four of the five candidates attended an all-candidates meeting at W. Erskine Johnston Public School in South March. The Kindergarten to Grade 8 school meeting was led by teacher Amanda Salinas and was an opportunity for young students to here from the candidates and learn a little about politics and government. Conservative McCaffrey did not attend.