North Island-Powell River Candidate Q and A: Climate Change

Election 2021.
Rachel Blaney of the New Democratic Party. Photo suppliedRachel Blaney of the New Democratic Party. Photo supplied
Jessica Wegg of the Green Party of Canada. Photo suppliedJessica Wegg of the Green Party of Canada. Photo supplied
Shelley Downey of the Conservative Party of Canada. Photo suppliedShelley Downey of the Conservative Party of Canada. Photo supplied
Jennifer Grenz of the Liberal Party of Canada. Photo supplied.Jennifer Grenz of the Liberal Party of Canada. Photo supplied.

In order to give voters in the North Island-Powell River riding a chance to get to know their candidates in the 2021 federal election, Black Press reached out to each candidate with a list of questions concerning voter priorities.

The questions were taken from an Aug. 5 Angus Reid poll listing British Columbians’ top three priorities. Those priorities are: Environment/Climate Change: 45 per cent, Housing Affordability: 36 per cent and Coronavirus/COVID-19: 29 per cent.

The candidates have been sorted by alphabetical order, based on last name. They will rotate with each question.

This week’s question is: “What will you do to ensure that we get something done on climate change in a timely and effective manner?”

Some of the answers have been edited for brevity.

New Democratic Party – Rachel Blaney

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Canadians rightfully should be concerned about climate change. We’ve seen the changes happening more rapidly. The reality is of all the G7 countries, Canada is the only one that is seeing emissions go up. That’s been under the leadership of the Liberal government.

Our team works really hard. Bill C-12 came out in the last parliament. That was the Climate Accountability Act. We really worked hard to make sure that those levels of accountability were increased.

We have to see the emissions in this country go down. That means a real investment in green technology, supporting transitioning, supporting workers as we have to transition. These are going to be challenging times and we need to make sure that workers are also at the forefront of those very hard decisions.

What we keep hearing from the Liberals are great things. It sounds really good. We actually are not seeing anything that is going to get us to the next step. It’s hard to take their carbon tax seriously when we see that subsidies are still going to oil and gas companies. That means that the biggest polluters are off the hook and they get what they want. What we’re talking about is ending those subsidies for the big polluters to make sure that we actually see the emissions start to go down and the investment in that going down. Big polluters need to pay.

Let’s get on it quickly and make sure that we make the difference. When it comes to bill C-12, we were able to get something more than just empty changes. There’ll be progress reports on how we’re doing in Canada in 2023 and 2025.

People are feeling frustrated because they don’t know if anything is actually being done, and they’re seeing that our emissions are going up. What we’re hoping to see with the Canadian Accountability Act is an actual measurement of those emissions and making sure that Canadians can see what’s being done and not being done, and that the government is held to account. That’s why we fought so hard to get those measures in the bill.

READ MORE: NDP Candidate says ‘things are changing… and we need consistency’

Conservative Party of Canada – Shelley Downey

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The Conservatives have brought out a plan to address climate change. It has been verified and tested and proven that our plan will allow us to meet the targets that have been set and reduce emissions by 2030, while also resulting in a boost in jobs and our economy.

Part of those measures will involve carbon capture, lower industrial emissions, zero emission vehicles, and also our low carbon savings plan.

Liberal Party of Canada – Jennifer Grenz

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One of the most important things to recognize are that the impacts of climate change are disproportionate when we’re talking about them on small communities. Our small communities feel the impact of climate change so much more than other areas. That message needs to be received in Ottawa so that we aren’t forgotten when we’re coming up with solutions. The climate affects all of our industries: forestry, aquaculture, tourism, commercial fishing, all of it. In these larger climate plans we forget about the lives and work of people that are out of sight out of mind. I really want to represent those issues of living in coastal communities and smaller communities in regards to climate.

Climate change mitigation and adaptation presents a number of economic opportunities for coastal and northern communities. We need to be investing in innovation and opportunities in these areas that need jobs. There are places where that kind of work can be done and make a difference. We need to build the economies in many of our small towns, and climate change presents opportunities for us to do that as well as address one of the greatest crises of our time.

Talking about the disproportionate impact of climate on coastal and Indigenous communities is front of mind for me. My traditional territory burned. What happened in Lytton could happen to any of our small towns in this riding. Dealing with these issues is very real, and knowing the impacts of the potential is something I care greatly about, and I take seriously. Emphasizing that personal connection… Lytton could be any of us. We need to prioritize addressing the safety of our small communities and mitigating climate change before it’s too late.

RELATED: North Island-Powell River Liberal candidate to help build bridges on pertinent issues

Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada – Carla Neal

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One of the biggest things would be to reduce the impact of the war apparatus to less than it is. Right now, all of the carbon output of the military is simply not counted. It is not included in the output or any of the climate change goals. They put out a lot of carbon and it’s not calculated, counted or considered in terms of reduction of carbon output. One of the first things that I would do is reduce the military, bring it home and stop fighting wars that we have no business in.

RELATED: North Island-Powell River Marxist-Leninist candidate promises an alternative from ‘cartel parties’

Green Party of Canada – Jessica Wegg

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I will do everything that I absolutely can to make sure that we do something on climate change. That’s why I’m doing this. Everything within my power to do, I will do it.

We absolutely have to do something. We need to stop any new oil and gas exploration. We can’t be fracking at all. We need to accept that there are absolutely viable green alternatives to produce energy and there are jobs that we need to fill to make that transition. We can work together, nobody has to lose their job, nobody has to be worried that they’re not going to be able to put food on the table if we stop extracting fossil fuels. We will keep people employed, and we can transition to greener energy. These ideas are not mutually exclusive. We need people to fill these jobs and we need to get this work done.

The climate for me is really the biggest (issue). It touches on everything. All of the other issues would be related to that, really. I’ve heard people concerned about forestry, fresh water… we really just need to realize how everything is linked.

READ MORE: North Island-Powell River Green Party candidate sees climate as only issue in election

Black Press has contacted the Marxist-Leninist Party, the People’s Party of Canada and the Maverick Party and is awaiting response. Because of the short campaign period, we have published the answers received by candidates declared so far, and will add any responses to this story as they come in.

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