Climate forum shows the possibilities for addressing climate

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No need to worry about climate if we get nuked first Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Lib win means more of same

Due to the Carillon’s print schedule,all Saskatchewan races had not been called as of press time.]

On September 13, the Council of Canadians held a climate change forum in Saskatoon via Zoom where candidates running in the federal election discussed various topics related to the environment and environmental policies. The four candidates there were Jeremy Fisher (Communist Party), Claire Card (NDP), Dawn Dumont Walker (Liberal Party), and David Greenfield (Green Party). The Conservative Party and the People’s Party, both of which advocate for more pipelines and have downplayed the seriousness of the climate crisis, a were notably absent. Although the Liberal Party’s baffling victory in the face of offering nothing but what they have failed to provide when they held majority and minority governments before means that there will be little change in how the federal government approaches climate, the forum demonstrates what matters to Saskatchewan residents when it comes to the crisis.

The first question of the night addressed oil and gas lobbyists. Candidates were asked if they will stand up to the lobbyists and champion legislation to end fossil fuel subsidies/ all new fossil fuel permits.

Card said, “we have committed to removing fossil fuel subsidies and reaching at least a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. And we have to have the goal of reaching net zero by 2050.” She continued to explain that the NDP don’t want to leave people unemployed, but rather the opposite, and bring in more jobs by green initiatives. She also pointed out that Canada will start to feel the effects of climate change soon and agriculture will be hit hard if we don’t act fast.

Greenfield and Fisher were the only two candidates who stated that they were anti-pipeline and would cancel all future projects. In fact, Fisher took it one step further and said “we think oil and gas executives that knew about the climate crisis and what they were doing to the environment ahead of time should be put in jail. Corporations should be heavily fined for participating in this apocalyptic practice.” Fisher elaborated and discussed how the Communist Party would adopt a people’s energy plan, consisting of public ownership and control of all energy and natural resources, including extraction, production, and distribution to compensate the Indigenous peoples and communities affected by the tar sands.

Fisher announced that the Communist Party would slash the military budget by 75 per cent because they are, federally, Canada’s largest polluter.

The candidates were asked their next question by an audience member who was wondering if the Zoom call was an echo chamber since there were no right-leaning parties present. The candidates agreed that it may be a slight example of preaching to the choir, but at the same time the right-leaning parties simply didn’t show up. Attendees were also reminded of March 2021, when delegates at the Conservative Party’s policy convention voted in favour of denying climate change.

Candidates at the forum were also posed the question “do you believe that nuclear power can be part of an ecologically sound energy future? What do you believe Canada should do with its nuclear waste from various sources, like uranium mine tailings and reactors?”

There was a consensus among most of the candidates that nuclear power would have to be phased out completely because while it is “green” it leaves a lot of waste behind in the form of tailing ponds, which stick around for a very long time.

Greenfield suggested that we need to keep an eye on the nuclear waste by monitoring it indefinitely. As for how to store it, he said, “the post-reactor waste needs to be stored safely below the surface but not deep down, say within about 500 meters of the surface. It needs to be monitored and repairable storage. Most importantly, we have to stop producing the waste.”

Meanwhile, Walker thought nuclear power should be kept in the back pocket of the country as a “plan D”. She said, “we have to work as hard as we can to optimize our hydro, our, you know, solar power, which I don’t even think we’ve really even tried to do as much of that as we can.” She also said, “nuclear industry would like to put a lot of that waste on First Nations land. And that’s, that’s always a terrible idea, and gives you an idea of where the mindset of the industry is.”

An issue voiced by one of the audience members was that people in Saskatchewan are adamantly opposed to using nuclear energy to reach Canada’s climate goals and asked how the Liberal candidate would represent that belief if elected.

Walker responded by saying, “on behalf of Saskatchewan, if that is not what Saskatchewan wants or needs, then I would definitely not vote for it. I think that when I decided to join the Liberal Party, I didn’t think that I was going to be giving up my ability to have opinions on things.”

One of the last questions asked candidates to discuss what their thoughts were on companies like Cameco having a positive image and if they would be held accountable for back taxes they owed.

Fisher said, “well, that’s how they like to gloss over all of our eyes, is by sponsoring and funding these big events or putting their banners all over, you know, rider games and things like that. It’s a joke.”

Card from the NDP said, “I feel that, you know, we could point to the fact that corporations, large corporations haven’t been paying their fair share in taxes and were reduced by the conservatives on large corporations in 2015.”

Another important topic that was covered was how each candidate would, “ensure peoples lands and knowledge are meaningfully included in climate action plans and planning processes?”

Card started the discussion by stating, “the New Democrats have fully stated that reconciliation is at the heart of everything we do. And we’re committed to indigenous rights and indigenous people’s ability to protect the land the waterways, and biodiversity. And we want them to be included in a way that they’re treated as full and equal partners in all major decision-making processes.”

Fisher thought that stating reconciliation being a priority was not enough and vowed to abolish the RCMP. He said, “there is no future for Canada without the guidance and knowledge of indigenous peoples here. We need their help to survive the coming climate crisis. These are people that actually care about their environment, and the impact that they have on it and it would be nice if white settlers would start listening to them.”

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