September 8 saw the local candidates from Glengarry-Prescott-Russell debated several issues raised during the election.
The fourth question went to Conservative candidate Susan McArthur about whether it was wise to aim for lower carbon emissions reduction targets in the face of the rising climate crisis. McArthur responded that the higher targets were too unrealistic to meet in the given time frame, and that the Conservatives preferred to set goals that they could achieve rather than promise empty words.
NDP candidate Konstantine Malakos criticized both the Conservative and Liberal parties on this point, saying that the Conservatives were still debating whether climate change is real at their March 2021 convention, and the Liberals took the opportunity to campaign on their indecision. He noted that the NDP’s Leia Gazan put forward a motion in Parliament to formally address climate change, which the Liberals voted down. Malakos said that he and Green Party candidate Daniel Lapierre were the only two candidates who were ready to take concrete action on climate change
Drouin pointed out that the Liberals are proposing a $170-per-tonne carbon emissions tax, which is more than triple the Conservative proposal of $50 per tonne. The Liberals also propose banning gasoline-powered cars by 2035 and adjust infrastructure so electric vehicles will be ready to take over, which, Drouin said, is a real plan for the environment.
Malakos said that wasn’t fast enough, and that changes need to happen faster to have a real impact. Drouin noted that Thomas Mulcair, former NDP leader, and Andrew Weaver, former B.C. Green Party leader, endorsed the Liberal plan. Malakos said that the concern is with today’s parties, not yesterday’s.
McArthur noted it was interesting how the Liberals like to run against people that aren’t their competitors, because “they don’t actually like to run on their own track record.” She said the Conservative plan is much more realistic and will innovate architecture, support a green economy, research carbon capture, and address global greenhouse gas emissions by exporting Canada’s clean natural gas to countries that are still burning carbon.
Drouin dismissed the idea that Canada isn’t contributing significantly enough to make a difference on greenhouse gas. He said that instead of helping other countries, Canada should focus on lowering our own emissions and setting an example for other countries to follow. Malakos pointed out that Canada is the only G7 country to have not yet met its 2030 target as set out in the Paris Climate Summit Agreement. Drouin said that it isn’t 2030 yet.
Malakos said that action needs to be taken now if Canada is to meet the 2030 target, arguing that there is no switch to throw to stop the problem, with in the Sudbury region that need to be put out now, not in 2030, because they are affecting air quality in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell. Drouin agreed and said that the Liberals propose to shut down all coal plants and exportation in Canada. Malakos argued that stopping the proposed L’Orignal cement plant would also be a good idea. Drouin stated Malakos didn’t know the community, adding that the community might want and benefit from the cement plant, and Malakos should be ashamed of making false commitments.
Drouin said that the government has a duty to make sure no family gets left behind, that no family is struggling to find food and shelter. Malakos said that they should stop leaving people behind then,that poverty is running rampant in Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, and the Liberals have shot down every idea put forward to address it. Malakos said the Liberals shot down NDP MP Daniel Blaikie’s proposal to lift the disabled community out of poverty, and they shot down the NDP proposal to include dental care in universal healthcare. He quoted Drouin as saying, “We do not have comprehensive data on unmet dental care needs on a national level,” as Drouin voted to deny the inclusion. Drouin said this was a false equivalency since members of Parliament can’t present a private member’s bill with money attached.
Green Party candidate Daniel Lapierre said that greenhouse gas levels have increased in the past six years. He agreed with Malakos that Canada can’t increase its greenhouse gas levels and then, at some unknown future moment, say they’ll decrease them. Lapierre argued that Canada has to stop investing in oil and gas and turn to green energy.
McArthur repeated her statement that Canada should be setting realistic goals instead of unrealistic ones, as well as leveraging its assets by focusing on innovations in carbon capture and architecture.