On Oct. 3, Federal candidates were invited to attend the Fredericton extension of the 100 Debates on the Environment, a series of debates held solely concerning issues of climate change.
120 debates were held nationally, each asking the same questions of its local candidates. In attendance at the Fredericton debate was Matt DeCourcey of the Liberal Party, Jenica Atwin from the Green Party, Brandon Kirby from the Libertarian Party, and Jacob Patterson from the Communist Party. The Conservative Party and People’s Party of Canada candidates had conflicts of schedules and could not make it.
The organizers for this event were Nature New Brunswick, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Débats Environnement, UNB Sustainability, UNB Forestry and Environmental Management and the UNB Faculty of Arts.
The first question asked the candidates how they ensure Canada meets its international obligations to reduce GHG pollution, as Canada produces the most GHG pollution of all G20 industrialized nations.
Patterson answered first saying that the Communist Party has a temperament plan towards greenhouse gases, mentioning a public ownership of natural resources in Canada, which would help steward the economy away from heavy polluting.
Patterson also said they would like to phase out tar sands, ban all environmentally threatening activities in Canada and invest more directly into more sustainable industrial practices.
Atwin spoke about the Green Party’s plan to ensure the entire transportation system has zero emissions, through the introduction of electric vehicles. She also spoke about the need for behavioural change regarding air travel and where food is sourced.
A large part of Atwin’s plan is putting partisanship aside and working with other parties on these issues rather than fight over them.
DeCourcey agreed that the climate change issue is something all Canadians need to be apart of, drawing attention to past actions of the Liberal party.
“After 10 years of completely ignoring that climate change even existed, the very first action that [the Liberal Party] took as a government was to take a cross partisan team to Paris to commit to those Paris targets and then put in place a $70 billion Climate plan with 50 unique conditions that are already taking place in our communities,” he said.
He added that the Liberal Party is committed to meeting 2030 targets and reach net zero emissions by 2050. Also, DeCourcey said they would get there by phasing out coal fired energy by 2030 and moving to 90% renewables. He spoke about the electric vehicle charging network that they are working on building coast to coast.
Kirby spoke next about Free Market Environmentalism, mentioning making a tax rate for people choosing to use solar panels and an auto loan for an Electric Vehicle tax write off.
Another question dealt with how the candidates planned to help conserve Canada’s wilderness.
DeCourcey mentioned the Liberal Party’s commitment to plant 2 billion trees and how their work toward banning single-use plastics. He also said they are investing 100 million to support developing countries to assist with their ecosystems.
Kirby spoke about reintroducing “50% profit sharing of a resource based economy” with Indigenous communities, which he believes to be an existing contractual obligation. This would give 50% of the profit to Indigenous communities and grant them veto power regarding certain development initiatives. He also wants to replace all entitlements to Indigenous communities with a universal basic income, which would be funded exclusively by the 50% earned from the profit shared fund.
Patterson wants to give stewardship back to Indigenous people, advocating for a rewrite of the constitution. He also mentioned giving disincentives to companies to protect our water and forests.
Atwin believes that we are mistreating our resources and there is a lot that can be done with an acre of woods that we have been neglecting. She also mentioned how the pipeline would negate the conservation efforts that DeCourcey mentioned the Liberal government has in place for protecting the Atlantic right whales.
Another question presented to candidates concerned air pollution, and how they plan to help protect public health and the environment from toxic substances.
Kirby spoke about using less harmful pesticides. He wants to take a look at the regulations controlling the costs of using safer pesticides.
Patterson said his party is committed to expanding inter-city rail transport. They would like to move towards a free transport system, which would allow for easier mobility with fewer emissions.
Atwin brought up glyphosate, an herbicide, for which she calls for a review in light of recent cases indicating a potential link to certain cancers. She says she plans to put forward a private member’s bill to ban glyphosate nationally in Canada for uses in forestry, cosmetic and as a tree desiccant.
DeCourcey said the Liberal government has reinvested in science by bringing back the chief science officer. He also said investing in cleaner ways we fuel our vehicles, and investing in things like electric buses and light rail are a part of the steps the Liberal government plans to take.