Liberal Party candidate Peter Schwarzhoff says we need to change the discussion surrounding climate change from a struggle we must get through into an opportunity to be embraced during last week’s forum at the Tidemark Theatre. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

North Island candidates chime in on climate change, transition from fossil fuels

How do we get off oil and gas without tanking our economy?

One of the major topics in this year’s federal election has been climate change and the need for Canada to move towards green energy and sustainable resource management while not tanking the economy, which currently relies heavily on the oil and gas industry.

The candidates for the North Island – Powell River riding shared their views on “green jobs,” “green transportation” and “green energy” at the all-candidates forum at the Tidemark Theatre Thursday night.

In the order the question was answered, the candidates thoughts on the matter were as follows:

Rachel Blaney (NDP) says the changes we need to make as a society, “won’t all be comfortable.”

“The faster we move, the better off we’re going to be,” Blaney says, who points to the group Iron and Earth, which is made up of oil and gas industry workers, Blaney says, “and what they’re doing is assessing the skills they have and looking at different systems that could work in their region to provide the energy we need,” adding that the transition off oil and gas has to made in collaboration with the workers in those industries so they can find space in the new economy created by that transition.

Brian Rundle (PPC) says that if the oil and gas industry shuts down, “there is going to be suffering. We are going to give up our economies. Renewable energies are not ready for this transition. Someday they will be, but they’re not.”

He also says the dialogue surrounding climate change is part of an “agenda” by the United Nations designed to cripple first world economies.

Shelley Downey (Conservative) says that oil and gas powers so many facets of the country’s economy, it would be crazy to stop production.

“How does a grapple yarder work?” she asks rhetorically. “Are we expecting our logging equipment to start working on batteries? I do not see how we can transition away from fossil fuels and still have industry and jobs for our region.”

Glen Staples (Independent) sides with Blaney, saying the transition might be difficult, but he thinks it’s necessary.

“The southern states had an economy based on cotton, with slave labour,” Staples says, “and when it was decided to get rid of slavery, the plantations complained a lot. But it was worth it. And it’s worth it in this case, too.”

Peter Schwarzhoff (Liberal) says his government is already making that transition, and if re-elected, it will continue to do so.

“The world is making this transition to a new economy. It’s not a Canadian thing,” Schwarzhoff says. “We can choose to be part of it or we can choose to drag our feet. If we don’t do anything, it’s going to be very uncomfortable as the worst effects of climate change hit us. We need to adapt. We need to mitigate. Not doing anything isn’t an option. We need to look at this not as a struggle we must get through, but as an opportunity we can embrace.”

Mark de Bruijn (Green) says his party is the only one with a real plan that will make a difference.

“This isn’t just a little transition,” he says. “This is an enormous transition on a global scale and it has to happen at an incredibly rapid rate. What we’re facing now is a political situation in this country where one of the major parties denies it, another one calls it a conspiracy, the third one says they have a climate action plan and yet supports LNG and fracking – which is an enormous contributor of methane gas and CO2 – and the last one buys a pipeline, commits us to a $15 billion expansion and puts $30 billion into LNG. Those are not climate plans.”

Carla Neal (Marxist-Leninist) was not in attendance.

The Mirror live-streamed last week’s forum to its Facebook page, so if you’d like to know more about how the candidates feel about this or any other matter discussed, head to Facebook.com/CampbellRiverMirror to find the event in its entirety.



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