There was a great turnout on Thursday, Sept. 17 for an all candidate debate hosted by the Selkirk College Mir Centre for Peace and the Nelson & West Kootenay Citizens’ Climate Lobby at the Sandman Inn.
The candidates in attendance were Richard Cannings for the NDP, Connie Denesiuk for the Liberals, and the recently nominated Samantha Troy for the Green party. Marshall Neufeld, the Conservative candidate, wasn’t able to attend but sent his regrets and some comments, which the moderator, minister Greg Powell, read on his behalf.
Cannings, who is a biologist, emphasized his commitment to science and the environment in his opening remarks.
Denesiuk has been involved in public education for a number of years, and stressed that the Liberals planned to find ways of mitigating the effects of climate change, and creating clean energy.
Troy pointed out that the Green party’s platform is based on not only sustainability, but also non-violence.
Neufeld’s statement was that he and “the Conservative party remain focused on the economy and the security of Canadians.” The statement went on to emphasize the Conservatives’ commitment to keeping taxes low and fighting terrorism.
The first section of the debate focused on peace and security.
All three candidates spoke about the need for Canada to take on a peacekeeping role, rather than taking part in combat.
Denesiuk and Troy also felt there was more work needed to keep Canadians safe at home.
“I believe that peace and security starts at home by modelling it at home,” said Denesiuk, “and we know that there’s been a number of recommendations that have come out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and I think we need to start right there.”
“We’ve got lots and lots and lots of issues of lack of peace and lack of security and lack of safety amongst so many of our own communities,” said Troy. “Amongst our youth, amongst our women, amongst our First Nations people.”
The second section of the debate focused on the environment and climate change.
All the candidates present had strong feelings about climate change, and said there parties would support policies to fight climate change.
“We’ve known about this for decades and we have been dithering for decades. We signed onto the Kyoto protocol without a plan, we abandoned that,” said Cannings. “We must go to Paris with a plan, and that plan must be bold and lead to very rapid and strong action on climate change.”
Cannings was referring to the UN Conference on Climate change taking place in Paris at the end of November.
For the third section of the debate, attendees broke off into groups to come up with audience questions for the candidates. In the meantime, the candidates formed their own group, discussing how parties can work together and how parliament can be more democratic.