Chamber Debate, Candidates on Climate Change

By John Swartz

The Orillia District Chamber of Commerce’s traditional candidates debate was held Thursday evening in council chambers at City Hall. All 6 candidates were present.

Each debate the chamber holds follows a similar format whether it’s a municipal, provincial or federal election; Candidates each get 5 minutes off the top for their pitch, the chamber membership poses some questions, the event sponsor (Lakelands Association of Realtors in this case) gets a couple questions, members of the media present get 30 minutes divvied to ask questions, and then the public can ask.

This article provides the question asked by SUNonline/Orillia with the full answers from each candidate in the order they answered.

The question asked was:

“I actually heard the phrase, “we’re going to start to plan,” and I heard a few others talk about plans relating to climate change. The poles are saying, overwhelming, depending on which one, 2/3rds or 3/4s of Canadians, they want action. The time for planning was a decade ago, or more. So, the question is pretty simple, it’s really a yes or no answer, if you are elected, are you going to something concrete all Canadians can see which demonstrates action on climate change? I’m sure you’ll probably use the rest of your time after a yes or no to tell us what that is.

Chris Brown, Christian Heritage Party

“I contend that climate hysteria has a hidden agenda that is not about climate. It is about big government taking your money to become even bigger. I’m going to read two quotes. The first one is the co-chair of the UN.s IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change); quote, “we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. One has to free one’s self from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.” This is nothing new in environmental policy anymore. The next is from an elitist think-tank, “the threat of environmental crisis will be the international disaster key that will unlock the new world order.” Now does that sound like a climate agenda, or is it, as I contend, something else?”

Angelique Belcourt, New Democratic Party

“Let’s make one thing clear, climate change is real. I want to establish that for any other parties that may deny that. We have the boldest climate plan of all parties are currently running. Our goal is to work with people and not big corporations. On the first day of office we’re going to eliminate all fossil fuels industry subsidies, totaling currently up to $3.3 billion. We’ll also create an independent office for climate accountability to do regular audits of our climate goals, such as our biggest imitative, trying to stabilize green house gas production targets, helping to stabilize global temperature,”

Bruce Stanton, Conservative Party

“We have a planned as a party, and that remains true for us as well, in the rollout of a 55 point, practical, realizable plan that will actually bring green house gas emissions down here in Canada, but also take the fight on global climate change to the world. We will work with our allies and people around the world to make sure that green house gas emissions globally also start to come down. That means for us, exporting the kind of clean technology and the resources we have here in this country, researchers and knowledge otherwise, including clean fuel, to actually help other countries in the world reduce their GHG emissions. We have a responsibility to reduce ours, of course. We’ve got to meet, at the very least, our Paris Climate Accord commitment and we have a plan to that, including improving conservations and the kind of things that will reduce green house gas emissions in your own home,”

Gerry Hawes, Liberal Party

“The Liberal government has done more in its first term of office than any other government in history to deal with climate change. We put forward a 50 point plan. Only one point of that plan is the carbon tax. There’s many other things that have taken place over the term of government. And we need to put a price on pollution. We can’t pretend we can achieve our goals without doing that. Going forward the Liberal government will put in 5 year milestones that are legally binding on the government in order to achieve the goals. (The goals) will be developed in consultation with economists, environmental and other experts, and they are meant to keep the government’s feet to the fire so that successive governments are taking the steps necessary to meet the goals that we have to meet. Lots of other ideas are coming out in the Liberal platform, such as planting trees. I don’t have enough time to go through it all, but we will be net zero emissions by 2050 and surpass our 2030 goals with this plan the Liberals put forward.”

Valerie Powell, Green Party

“Our plan is an action plans. It’s 20 steps. We have many more policies to back it up. The first one is to declare a climate emergency. The second is to establish an inner cabinet of all parties. It will take everybody working together to resolve this and it needs to be resolved quickly. Our targets are stronger and more stringent than other parties. We need to be reduce our green house gasses by 60 percent by 2030 if we are going to achieve net zero by 2050. If our temperature increases by more than 1.5 percent, we’re done as a species,”

“Stephen Makk, People’s Party

“I like this question because it asks about what we could actually do. I’d like to turn it around. We will probably not form a majority government this time, so there is very little I could do to make big change. However, I turn this back. The desire to change climate is something that people want really passionately, so I think the people should take action. Don’t wait for government. Don’t wait for China or America to change their ways. Do what you can in your life to make good decisions towards climate. If 37 million Canadians all individually make good decisions in favour of the environment, I think we can solve this thing. So get started now, don’t wait for your government.”

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia)


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