Jesse Cole, The Nelson Daily
Candidates vying to represent Kootenay - Columbia in parliament made their case to the people of Nelson as the city hosted an all-candidates forum on Monday (October 7).
Held at the United Church, candidates from three of the major parties were slated to participate including incumbent New Democrat Wayne Stetski, Green Party candidate Abra Brynne and Liberal candidate Robin Goldsbury. Conservative Party candidate Rob Morrison had also RSVP'd for the event but declined at the last moment due to illness.
In a surprising twist of events, two candidates made last-minute appeals to join the forum including People’s Party of Canada (PPC) candidate Rick Stewart and Animal Protection Party (APP) candidate Trev Miller. Moderators allowed the audience gallery to decide whether the two candidates should participate with attendees overwhelmingly voting in favour of their involvement.
The forum was presented jointly by four organizations including the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the West Kootenay EcoSociety, the Mir Centre for Peace and the Friday for Future team. The forum focused primarily on issues of climate change and its solutions.
Four questions were presented to the candidates with each candidate being given one minute for opening statements and two minutes to address the questions. Candidates were also given 30 seconds for rebuttals and allowed up to two rebuttals per questions. Following each question, the audience gallery was allowed to vote whether they were in favour or opposed to the question by majority rule.
Questions posed included whether candidates would support ending fossil fuel industry subsidies, taking a non-partisan approach to addressing climate change, transitioning to renewable energies on a local level and what actions candidates would take over the next 16 months to ensure an 80 per cent emissions reduction by 2030. Audience questions also ranged from how candidates would create sustainable, regional transit in Western Canada to their stance on the Alberta Oil Sands.
Stetski and Brynne's platforms focused primarily on transitioning to a greener economy, creating jobs through renewable industries and retrofitting of outdated infrastructure like abandoned oil wells or manufacturing electric cars. While both shared many of the same policy planks, Stetski called the Green's platform improbable due to its high cost.
Goldsbury largely defended the government's track record on transitioning to a green economy and maintaining jobs, but acknowledged that more needed to be done and done more quickly. Miller spoke about the need to create a universal basic income program and allowing multi-national corporations to "go-it-alone" in the free-market system.
Stewart defended working with the oil and gas industries to develop alternative energy sources and also spoke on defending Canada's sovereignty and prosperity.
The federal election will be held on Oct. 21.