Climate change was a hot topic during the 2021 all candidates debate hosted by the Campbell River and District Chamber of Commerce.
The full video is available on their Youtube page. Six of the seven candidates took part in the debate, with the People’s Party of Canada candidate declining the invitation to participate.
The second half of the debate began with a question about whether candidates felt climate change was a real threat, and if so, what they planned to do about it. Though every candidate did believe climate change did pose a real threat, they differed on what was to be done to combat it.
“I think it’s amazing, as someone who works on the front lines of the climate crisis, that this is even a question. It suggests there are people in the opposition and in government right now that actually make this question necessary.” said Liberal Party of Canada candidate Jennifer Grenz. “We have to take an ecological perspective when we’re dealing with climate and how we’re going to tackle mitigation and adaptation. The same goes when with applying an Indigenous worldview to this. Climate is woven through everything that we’re addressing. We cannot silo issues… this is all connected.”
Lowering emissions by stopping investments in oil and gas and instead investing in a greener economy were ideas shared by Green and NDP candidates.
“This is one of the main questions of our time. We are facing things that we have never seen before, and it’s increasing… This is no longer an anomaly, this is a trend,” said NDP candidate Rachel Blaney. “We have to make strong commitments to lowering our emissions… It’s also important as we look at how our economy needs to change. We need to be investing in the green economy so that we can be leaders and looking at ways that we can develop our economy and encouraging other economies to take us as leaders.
“We have to stop investing in oil and gas,” she said. “There are a lot of subsidies going that way. We need to use those subsidies to invest in local opportunities.”
“We stop fossil fuel extraction as fast as we can,” said Green Party of Canada candidate Jessica Wegg. “No new exploration no new subsidies. We could get that $18 billion back… One thing is not a silver bullet in this. We cannot cure it, we cannot fix it. We have to fight it and we have to do it together.”
Conservative candidate Shelley Downey agreed that “climate change is absolutely a threat,” and said that managing the forest is one of the best ways to ensure protection against wildfires.
“A growing forest is also a carbon sink,” she said. “We need our forests. We need them. As we build with more wood structures, those are more carbon sinks and those are for the betterment of our environment.”
She also cited the Conservative Party of Canada’s plan to reduce emissions, including getting more electric vehicles on the road, and investing in carbon capture technology.
Maverick Party candidate Stacey Gastis also spoke about the workers currently employed in resource extraction, saying that “some of the best ideas come from loggers and from people working in the oil and gas industry.”
His priority however was to “take on these people in Ottawa.”
“When you look at Ottawa, what you have is a centralized government who basically has their cronies in power working with multinational corporations. They’re the very same guys who set up these carbon credits,” he said. “We cannot do anything locally until we manage that first. They’re the threat.”
Marxist-Leninist candidate Carla Neal took a more global view of the problem, saying that though most of the resource extraction companies are foreign-owned, if the people want to do something to stop projects they can do so. Neal also discussed the fact that military emissions are not counted in any country-wide tallies, adding that “If we have an anti-war government, there will be less emissions by the military.”