It was a left-of-centre heavy presence on stage at the Kelowna Senior Citizens’ Society Thursday night as seven of 12 federal candidates from the Central Okanagan’s two ridings met to discuss topics affecting area residents.
Notable absences included candidates from the Conservative Party, the Marijuana Party and one People’s Party of Canada candidate.
That left only Kelowna-Lake Country John Barr of the People’s Party on the right to balance out a full turnout on the left which included the Liberals Mary Ann Murphy (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola) and Stephen Fuhr (Kelowna-Lake Country), the NDP’s Joan Phillip (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola) and Justin Kulik (Kelowna-Lake Country) and the Green Party’s Robert Mellalieu (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola) and Travis Ashley (Kelowna-Lake Country).
The forum, hosted by the Canadian Federation of University Women Kelowna, had candidates cover platform positions on various topics, including pharmacare, climate change, homelessness and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
The imbalance in political ideas was apparent in the candidates’ respective handling of a question regarding the reduction of carbon emissions.
“Are you sure that reduce is the word that you want to use?” said Barr.
“On Aug. 9 a major party tweeted: ‘This is what we’re up against. If humanity doesn’t transition off fossil fuels (before the next election) the earth will heat to unsafe levels and there will be climate catastrophe.’ The PPC rejects this rhetoric as alarmist and will focus on concrete solutions,” he said.
The tweet which Barr referenced was made by Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
This is what we're up against. If humanity doesn't transition off fossil fuels (before the next election) the earth will heat to unsafe levels and there will be climate catastrophe. https://t.co/stutip23IY
— Elizabeth May (@ElizabethMay) August 9, 2019
While the Greens, Liberals and NDP all recognize the issues a changing climate poses, their ideas on how to remedy the situation vary.
“There’s a scientific consensus that says we should be acting on climate change,” said Fuhr. “There’s an economic consensus that tells us that pricing pollution would be better off to any climate plan that has a chance at working. We actually have put a national price on pollution. In British Columbia, we’ve had a price on pollution for a decade. We know that it works.”
He said it could have been more effective if the previous federal government had kept up with climate action.
Kulik agreed with Fuhr the previous government did not do enough regarding climate change but said the current Liberal government has also failed to do its job.
“The Liberals like to say that its all about their (Paris Agreement) targets,” said Kulik. “But the government itself has announced it’s not on track to hit those targets, let alone targets that will actually keep global warming to 1.5 C.
“We’re going to take Paris targets, we’re going to increase them and we’re going to put them into law.”
Ashley expressed a similar sentiment. He said it would require political courage, adding the parties need to work together on a climate plan.
“We are at war with climate change,” he said. “We have to establish an inner cabinet of all parties with cooperation because this is a universal threat,” said Ashley. “We will reduce our emissions by 60 per cent before 2005 levels by 2030 and head towards zero emissions by 2050.”
Two more forums are currently scheduled for the Central Okanagan ridings:
- Sept. 21 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kelowna Downtown Library
- Oct. 16 – 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at the Coast Capri Hotel