Local candidates from the four major political parties have been invited to participate in a debate on environmental issues affecting the riding of Simcoe-Gray.
The event was sponsored by GreenPAC, a national, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that works to strengthen environmental leadership and government action on the environment.
It was held online on Wednesday, September 8. The debate was overseen by Penny Skelton – a Collingwood Rogers cable TV host and local resident. Liberal candidate Bren Munro, NDP candidate Lucas Gillies and Green Party candidate Nick Clayton all attended.
Outgoing curator Terry Dowdall declined the invitation, saying his “schedule will not allow him to attend.” The discussion followed several topics and focused on climate change.
Candidates were asked a series of questions they had received in advance. This was followed by a series of questions from the audience, which were asked of the contestants on the show. T
Applicants were asked if they would consider using mandatory measures to tackle climate change and what measures they would support.
Ms. Munro said the Liberal Party has set itself a target of reducing emissions by “40 to 45% below 2005 levels by 2030”.
Mr. Clayton cited wildfires and warming temperatures as evidence of a climate change emergency, adding that the Green Party “will shut the door on the oil and gas industry in Canada.”
NDP candidate Mr Gillies said “the majority of pollution is caused by big business,” adding that “mandatory measures will force these companies to reduce pollutants, including plastics and toxins, from their production”.
When asked what they would do to prevent over-development of SimcoeGrey’s farmland, candidates responded with several suggestions.
Clayton said the Green Party “will partner with the province and municipalities on the official plan to end vehicle-centric urban sprawl in favor of mixed-density pedestrianized neighborhoods.” M
r. Gillies said cities should be built “instead of disappearing. We need to prioritize local development and local land classification for development. ”
Ms Munro said she would work with local municipalities to resolve local environmental issues.
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act has not changed significantly since 1999. Candidates were asked if they would support a new bill to change the law and make it a priority.
Mr Gillies replied: “Having up-to-date and enforceable toxin legislation will be important locally, such as the water problems in Tottenham”.
Ms. Munro said, “We need to get this bill passed and we are open to improving the bill. We are [requiring] that consumer products such as cosmetics and cleaning products give people the information they need.
Mr. Clayton said the Green Party “will prioritize legislation to modernize the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, enshrining in law the right to a healthy environment for all Canadians.” It is access to clean air, land, food and water.
Applicants were asked how they would support young people in their quest for a cleaner environment and a sustainable world, and how would they give them hope?
Ms Munro replied that the Liberals were considering “every possible way to reduce carbon emissions”, adding that they were looking for “climate friendly fuels”.
She said a group of young liberals will march during United Nations Climate Week in New York.
Mr. Clayton said: “The voice of young people is what motivated me. To young people, I say, you cannot count on the people who are in power. I’m sitting here because you pushed me. What we are doing now – we have to consider what is happening seven generations later. ”
Mr. Gillies said the NDP “will provide free post-secondary education with a focus on stem research, engaging young people and championing their local projects and protecting the space where they live and grow.”
The debate then moved on to questions from the audience which were put to the candidates without prior knowledge of the content.
The first question asked what political parties would do to protect the Great Lakes and the waterways in Simcoe County.
Mr Clayton said the Green Party would provide “infrastructure improvements” and have “less paved areas and more green space to absorb water,” as well as move to a “different model of agriculture,” with fewer chemicals flowing into the water.
Mr. Gillies said the NDP “will protect the water and work with the fisheries” but gave up the rest of its time.
Ms. Munro said the Liberals are trying to “restore the Great Lakes, which provide one in four Canadians with clean drinking water.” A re-elected Liberal government will strengthen the freshwater action plan ”and“ work with provincial, territorial and aboriginal partners to better protect and manage Canada’s freshwater ”.
Candidates were then asked what bold actions they would take to reduce carbon emissions and overheating the planet.
Mr Gillies replied that “the New Democrats have a very bold climate action plan that includes a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and 0% by 2050”, adding “electricity without carbon by 2030 ”. Ms. Munro said, “Climate change continues to threaten our freshwater supply.
The bold action I can think of is that we have to work together. He cannot be partisan (question). Mr. Clayton said the Green Party “offers a non-partisan climate advisory board and does so at all levels of government.”
The debate will be rebroadcast on Collingwood Rogers Cable TV the days leading up to the election.