OUR VIEW: Putting a chill on debate

Elections are an active time for advocates, scientists or anyone concerned about the degradation of our environment and stopping climate change.

It’s when they get to hold politicians’ toes to the fire, raise issues around ecological conservation and if they can’t get candidates to make any commitments, they can at least get them on the record about issues. In the end, it’s about making sure the environment is included as part of the discussion, and not set aside as too controversial. Even if you don’t believe that human-caused climate change is a reality, a candidate or party’s stand on environmental issues is still something you need to know.

Issues like climate change affect us all, they’re not tied to any ideology. All parties should have a plank in their platform for how they are going to deal with these pressing issues.

That makes the announcement by Elections Canada warning environmental groups that ads about climate change could be considered partisan advertising all the more confusing.

While the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP are all, to some extent, addressing environmental issues in their platforms, but Maxime Bernier, leader of the new People’s Party, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of climate change.

According to Elections Canada, that one dissenting voice means that any group promoting climate change as an issue could be considered partisan.

So, if one of the parties should adopt a stance that public schools should be dropped in favour of an entirely private school system, does that mean anyone that wants to raise education as an election issue is being partisan?

Same for health care. If one party says the government should get out of the health care business, does that mean it’s now a partisan issue? The same goes for any other issue that is important to the entire society. It’s wrong Elections Canada to have put such a chill on advocates being able to promote issues, encouraging all candidates and parties to take a stand.

We need rules around election advertising. I

t’s necessary to keep the playing field level, to put the brakes on U.S.-style attack ads and generally keep politicians and third parties honest about who is supporting who.

But with that, there needs to be a recognition that some issues aren’t subject to partisan politics. One holdout doesn’t make climate change any less of a reality that needs to be addressed. –Black Press