Federal election candidates will have an opportunity to focus on issues of peace, security and climate change in a pair of all-candidates forums slated for Sept. 16 and 17.
The three important and often intertwined topics are of increasing relevance to Canadians in the twenty-first century. Co-hosted by Selkirk College’s Mir Centre for Peace and the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), the forums will take place in Nelson and Castlegar.
“A national opinion poll recently stated that Canadians feel less secure now than they did several years ago,” says Randy Janzen, chair of the Mir Centre for Peace. “We are asking the candidates to reflect honestly on how foreign policies can foster global peace and security, or conversely even exacerbate peace. We are also asking the candidates to listen to what the constituents are saying about peace and security.”
Climate change is the defining issue of this century. Experts predict that if we don’t drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are heading to some very dark places in the coming decades. Severe warming is expected to result in massive disruptions in world food supplies, cause lasting droughts and extreme weather events, and collapse our socio-economic systems. We can expect unprecedented numbers of climate refugees as the situation worsens.
“One of the goals for this forum is to have a candid dialogue about this complex issue,” says Laura Sacks, one of the organizers and head of the local CCL chapter.
“The biggest obstacle to solving this problem is political will. How can we tackle this complex issue, which requires a long-term commitment in an era of sound bites and short-term political thinking?”
The forums are expected to have a respectful tone and will be moderated by United Church ministers David Boyd in Nelson and Greg Powell in Castlegar. Public interaction and discussion of key issues will be encouraged.
Invitations were sent to candidates from the four main political parties back in June. Christina Yahn, the Libertarian party candidate, has also been invited to the Nelson forum. David Wilks, Conservative candidate and current MP for Kootenay-Columbia has declined the invitation.
The Castlegar forum is at the Sandman Hotel (1944 Columbia Avenue) on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 7 p.m. for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding.