About 140 people were at the debate. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

About 140 people were at the debate. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Close to 150 turned out for enviro debate at first all-candidates forum

One candidate missing, one late for faceoff

The Green Party candidate was the first to draw a reaction from the crowd that gathered at the Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre Tuesday evening for the first all-candidates debate on the environment.

About 140 people packed the main hall at the centre for the debate, part of 100 non-partisan debates on the environment that are being held across Canada before the election.

Missing at the debate was Conservative candidate Marc Dalton, who declined the invitation.

Ariane Jaschke, the Green Party candidate, said her desire to serve comes from a genuine love of humanity and the need to see responsible and ethical environmental stewardship in Canada.

“We will ban fracking, it’s a major source of greenhouse gases,” she said to applause and cheers from people in the audience, as she answered a question about climate change and each party’s plan for making sure Canada meets its international environmental obligations.

“We do not have to sacrifice a strong economy for a healthy environment. We need to get to net zero emissions by 2050,” she said.

NDP candidate John Mogk pointed out that the only party leader not to participate in the global Climate Strike was Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer.

“Their refusal to attend this debate here tonight speaks volumes,” he said.

“They are climate change naysayers,” said Mogk, adding climate change is the most important issue for the generation.

Independent candidate Steve Ranta said he is not seeing any leadership right now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from governments in Canada, including B.C.

“The first key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is to stop trusting any of the political parties to be on our side,” he said.

“Their records in government show they are quite willing to betray us and our future,” said Ranta.

Liberal candidate Dan Ruimy said if Canada’s goals are not achievable, then they are not going to be successful.

“Climate change didn’t occur overnight and it’s not one thing. Climate change has been decade after decade after decade of damage through poor property management, through floods, fires, development, over-developed sensitive areas. These things you can’t fix overnight,” he said.

“You can stop a pipeline. But that’s not going to fix the problem,” added Ruimy.

Peoples Party of Canada candidate Bryton Cherrier was around 15 minutes late for the debate and missed the first question and the chance to introduce himself.

Cherrier did say that he is not backed by big money or corporations.

Addressing a question about jobs and business opportunities for Canadians as the country transitions to a green economy, he brought up the recent Hammond Mill closure.

He said the softwood lumber tariffs that are still in place by U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, have to go.

“So there can be free markets between the two countries,” he said. “So this would create prosperous jobs into the forestry sector. I feel that it would be our first step,” added Cherrier.