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Environment debate has federal candidates offer different versions of a green tomorrow

Four candidates for the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge riding talk all things planet health
The all-candidates debate was held online, through Zoom. (Zoom screenshot/Special to The News)

Four candidates for the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge riding discussed and explained their stands on climate change, in a virtually-held debate on Wednesday.

The debate, part of the project 100 Debates on the Environment being held all across Canada, took place in the riding on Sept. 8, and saw Conservative incumbent Marc Dalton, NDP candidate Phil Klapwyk, Independent Steve Ranta, and Liberal candidate Ahmed Yousef take part. Missing from the debate were Rhinoceros Party candidate Peter Buddle, and Juliuss Hoffman of the People’s Party of Canada.

Around 60 viewers were seen in the audience on the online viewing platform for the debate organized by Kirk Grayson of Maple Ridge Climate Hub and moderated by Christian Cowley, executive director of the CEED Centre Society.

READ MORE: Poll shows close race in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows

Cowley posed questions around six topics ranging from pandemic prevention to green pandemic recovery, and from response to climate crisis while respecting Indigenous rights to Trans Mountain pipeline. The candidates also responded to several questions from the public that were submitted before and during the debate.

Incumbent Conservative MP Dalton, who had declined the invitation for the environmental debate in the last elections, took an about-turn on the climate change issue and acknowledged the climate crisis.

“Pandemic has had significant impact and a heavy collective toll on everyone,” he said. Pointing to his own Indigenous roots, with Metis heritage, Dalton also emphasized his party’s intention of ensuring a just and thorough consultation process with the Indigenous people.

“As an Indigenous person myself, over the course of this pandemic we have seen numerous challenges in our Indigenous communities and the way that Trudeau government has failed them.”

Dalton also talked about diversifying energy exports, and putting in place a proper fish-ladder system up to Alouette Lake, to enable salmon to return to their traditional spawning grounds.

Ranta was a staunch critic of all the parties throughout the debate, and responded to questions with examples of what other parties were doing wrong.

“I was hoping that COVID would get the political parties to finally admit that they had been leading us in the wrong direction for decades,” he said. “We can’t put up with this anymore, don’t get fooled, the parties are not going to help us.”

Ranta insisted that it was time for “radical change”.

NDP’s representative for the riding, Klapwyk said his party was the only saying point blank that they would end fossil fuel subsidies.

“To fully address the climate crisis, one needs to realize that absolutely everything has a carbon cost whether that is choosing what to eat, how to plan your errands, what to seed your lawn with, or how you consume media, one has to make a conscious choice to reduce the carbon cost of absolutely everything. This type of holistic approach is exactly what we need to approach the climate crisis in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge and it is the approach that I and the NDP are taking,” he said.

“As we emerge from the pandemic and contemplate a better Canada, we must put the climate at the centre of every decision we make.”

Maple Ridge city councillor Yousef, who is also a long-standing member of the Alouette River Management Society, emphasized the work he will do to restore the salmon passage, and the riverway’s health, while ensuring dialogue with the Indigenous and local environment groups.

“I am the guy who is not afraid to get his hands dirty. I am the guy who would chuck rocks to make sure the river is flowing properly; I don’t sit quietly,” said the Liberal hopeful.

Yousef also said he agreed with Ranta’s philosophy of not going for brands, but to instead look at candidates, and individuals “who are going to go and fight for us in Ottowa.”

To watch the full debate, people can go to:

ALSO READ: Know before you vote at the virtual all-candidates meeting

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Priyanka Ketkar

About the Author: Priyanka Ketkar

Priyanka Ketkar has been a journalist since 2011 with extensive experience in community-driven news writing, feature writing, and editing.
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