Manitoulin Votes: September 1, 2021

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week for the next two weeks, The Expositor will pose a question to the five candidates running for election in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing that is of concern to the people of Manitoulin Island. The candidates’ responses follow below.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate report was described as a “code red for humanity.” Climate change is a major and growing threat to wild species, wild spaces and human health. The climate has always changed with ecosystems and species coming and going, but rapid climate change affects ecosystems and species ability to adapt, increasing biodiversity loss.

Earlier this year, Manitoulin Island was part of an ecoregion identified as one of southern Canada’s nine most significant and threatened places for biodiversity conservation. About 40 species of global concern are found in the region. Three species added to Ontario’s species at risk list in their 2019-2020 report are endemic to the Great Lakes and in Ontario are found only on Manitoulin and surrounding islands. 

We have already seen 1.1°Celsius warming since the preindustrial era, with each of the last four decades successively the warmest since the 1800s. The organization Climate Action Tracker reports that Canada does not have sufficient policies in place to meet its updated domestic emissions reduction target and will need to adopt further measures. How will your party commit to meeting Canada’s obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement that are in line with preventing a global temperature rise of more than 1.5°Celsius?

Clarence Baarda,

Christian Heritage Party

There are several key questions and considerations included in this one question. There is environmental protection, national sovereignty and responsible stewardship of our environment. We cannot address one without addressing them all.

Before we can talk about the mandated environment solutions, using the “one size fits all” approach that our government seeks to put in place, under the direction of a non-elected body that has no jurisdiction in Canada, we must first deal with the national sovereignty issue. Canada is a sovereign country and not obligated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or Paris Climate Agreement. Any solution must be a “Made in Canada” solution for the benefit of Canadians, while protecting our sovereignty as a nation and our Canadian environment. Christian Heritage Party Canada would rescind any carbon taxes imposed by previous governments.

Secondly, as the question acknowledges, the climate of the earth has been changing since creation. At one point, this part of the world was covered in ice—the Ice Age. Global warming happened, without the help of man, without the ability of man to control it. Our environment has always changed and will continue to change. The question we must ask ourselves is: how can we protect our country’s environment, as much as we can, from the changing habitat?

It is important, rather than throwing money into carbon taxes, for us to fund the research needed to preserve what we have. There are species at risk, how can we preserve those species towards the next cooling trend? 

Would a biosphere, such as in Montreal, provide protection for endangered species? This type of research would benefit us so much more than carbon taxes that take from our wealth but provide nothing in return.

Similarly, we have dumped a lot of filth, poisons, toxins, etc into our oceans and lands. All of this comes from raw materials. Where is the funding for breaking these down and making them useable again? Where are the incentives that people need to stop using single use plastics? 

Consider the simple paper bag. You cut down a tree, process it into paper, create a bag, which has no significant effect on our environment because it breaks down to nothing, and then you plant 10 trees to grow up and produce more paper bags. It can be an endless environmentally friendly cycle. Carbon dioxide is not pollution; caring for Canada’s flora requires this beneficial natural gas, which is needed by all plants. This would also cut down on the single use plastics that we have been using to carry our groceries home, replacing it with something totally biodegradable. 

Meanwhile, how many plastic bottles of water have you used in the last month? You can buy drinking containers that can be used hundreds of times, why didn’t you use those? I hope at the next all candidates’ meeting to see everyone present with a reusable container for their water. This is being a responsible steward of our environment.

Where are the significant fines for people who are caught throwing their single use plastics on the ground? Where are the community orders to have them pick up and fill bags with garbage that is currently strewn along the roads, walkways and beaches? This type of activity will help educate people on the importance of preserving our environment.

People are incredibly creative when we are not stymied by mandated solutions, such as the carbon tax, that serve the purpose of filling government coffers but not solving our environmental problems.

Let’s put our creativity to work in solving problems that are solvable. Affecting our climate is not solvable. Creating an atmosphere of responsible stewardship among Canadians with the focus of preserving a clean, safe, environment that benefits mankind, the animal kingdom, insect populations, etc. will make us better stewards of an increasingly healthy environment. 

In summary, Canada needs to remove the focus of charging foreign mandated carbon taxes that damage our sovereignty and replace it with focussing on responsible handling of our natural resources and responsible stewardship of our environment.

Carol Hughes,

NDP incumbent

The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was sobering, highlighting a dire need for immediate action. Unfortunately, Canada needs to play catch up. Despite signing international agreements like the Paris Climate Accord and its predecessor, the Kyoto Accord, Liberal and Conservative governments have never reduced Canada’s carbon footprint. This allowed our greenhouse gas emissions to increase year after year. 

New Democrats are committed to helping stabilize the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and have set a target of reducing Canada’s emissions by at least 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. We know that reaching net-zero by 2050 means taking action now, during the term of this next Parliament. We will work with partners to establish multi-year national and sectoral carbon budgets as a key guiding framework to develop Canada’s path to 2030 and beyond. And we will create and fund a Climate Accountability Office, to provide independent oversight of federal climate progress, to engage the public, and to make recommendations on how to achieve our goals.

We will continue with carbon pricing while making it fairer and rolling back loopholes the Liberals gave to big polluters. But we also recognize that carbon pricing won’t be enough to tackle the climate crisis. Further action is needed.

Building on net-zero legislation will also be a priority for a New Democratic government. We will support Canada’s net-zero target by reviewing financial legislation to ensure federal financial levers and Crown corporations are aligned with the goal of net-zero. We will work with provinces to put in place a framework for corporate climate accountability to ensure mandatory transparency on carbon risk from publicly traded companies. And we will ensure that strict rules are in place to prevent big companies from using the purchase of offsets as a way to escape their net-zero obligations.

One thing we won’t do is continue to spend public money on oil and gas subsidies. Last year the federal government spent $18 billion to support oil and gas exploration, production, refining, transportation and more.  That’s on top of purchasing the Kinder-Morgan oil pipeline. New Democrats know that public funds are best spent supporting the transition to renewable energy, rather than on profitable oil and gas companies. We will fulfill Canada’s G-20 commitment to eliminate these fossil fuel subsidies and redirect these funds to low carbon initiatives, and make sure that future governments can’t reverse this.

We’ll work with the provinces and territories to make Canada an innovation leader on methane reduction in such areas as real-time monitoring and leakage detection, ensuring provincial methane regulations are genuinely equivalent with federal regulations, and increasing the ambition of those targets in the 2025-30 period.

The federal government can also model change, by becoming a trail-blazer in energy efficiency, clean technologies and renewable energy use. We will lead by example and procure from Canadian companies producing clean technology, ensure that federal buildings use renewable energy, and move federal government vehicle fleets to electric by 2025, choosing made-in-Canada wherever possible. We will protect Canadian businesses who are taking action to transition to a low-carbon future with a border carbon adjustment that will level the playing field on imports from areas without a carbon price. We will also appoint a Climate Emergency Committee of Cabinet and establish a strong Climate Emergency Secretariat in the PMO to ensure a whole-of-government approach to responding to the climate emergency.

Parliament recently passed Bill C-12, to put in law our collective commitment to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. New Democrats are proud of the role we played to get here—from Jack Layton’s advocacy for climate accountability legislation almost 15 years ago, to our success in ensuring C-12 included short-term accountability measures which will be so critical in setting Canada up to meet those targets.

Since signing the Paris Accord, Canada has had the highest greenhouse gas emissions growth in the G7. With emissions increases for every single year in which they have been in power, the Liberals have set an unambitious target that is not in line with what the best available science says is needed to prevent the catastrophic consequences of warming above 1.5 degrees. New Democrats are ready to do better.

Duke Peltier, 

Liberal Candidate

Miigwetch, thank you, merci for the opportunity to provide discussion on one of the most important and critical challenges facing our world today—climate change.

The world has not only ‘seen’ the impacts of climate change but we have all ‘experienced’ these impacts and we continue to.

If we look close to home here in Ontario, we have seen out of the norm rising and decreasing water levels in our lakes, increased intensity of storms, heatwaves and increased number and intensity of forest fires.

Each of these challenges has resulted, in many cases, tremendous impacts and threat to health, livelihoods, safety and properties—home and business.

We cannot just sit and let the negative realities of climate change continue.

And I assure each and every citizen in every community of this great Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing (AMK), that I will voice our AMK priorities on climate change at Canada’s highest government level.

Like you, I live in this great part of Ontario’s north. Like you, I have family here too. Like you, I live the impacts and unfortunate realities of climate change.

That’s why I have decided to run in this federal election–to raise the voice of each of you–the voice of AMK collective–I am an AMK citizen just like you.

I am confident that we, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing people, can achieve positive movement toward addressing the challenges of climate change through the Liberal plan on climate change.

In 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau signed the Paris Agreement, and the 2016 Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change was put in place. 

The Liberal government has put in place this plan—a plan that is doing more to cut carbon pollution than any other plan in Canadian history.

The Liberal government recognizes the intensive national effort that has been made and is required to put Canada on a path to significantly reduce emissions in a way that ensures all sectors and parts of the country can participate and thrive in an increasingly low-carbon economy. 

While the Liberal Party will continue to work toward its commitments under the Paris Agreement, including having committed to 40-45 percent carbon emission reductions below 2005 levels by 2030, we understand that additional resources are needed at home to keep our communities safe. 

As I noted, climate change is an evolving crisis—from heatwaves to wildfires Canadians are seeing the impacts of this crisis every day. 

That is why the Liberal Party pledges to fund training for 1,000 new community-based firefighters and help to provide them with the equipment they need to keep themselves and others safe. 

Communities in AMK are supported entirely by community based and volunteer firefighters. And with this, we also know that many of our fire departments in our AMK have dedicated, longstanding volunteers and fire chiefs leading them.

AMK is a region that is majorly at risk of wildfires. Having said that, I will ensure much needed resources are received by our fire departments. I know first-hand, as a leader, that our local fire departments need more resources than ever. These resources are needed to train new firefighters, to get our next generation of firefighters in place as volunteers approach retirement. 

In addition, a Liberal government will also help Canadians make their homes more resilient from the impacts of climate change. We’ll partner with the private sector to innovate climate adaptation, including lowering insurance premiums that would save Canadians money.

All of these commitments are geared toward communities like ours here in AMK and I will be in a position to ensure we are at the table to receive this much-needed assistance. 

Our Liberal party isn’t the only who has voiced the confidence in our plan to address climate change.

In the words of Tom Mulcair, former NDP Leader and MP for Outremont: “Mr. Trudeau had a climate plan last week that was absolutely marvelous. I mean, if they ever put that in place, that would actually put Canada on track to respect our Paris accord obligations.” 

Citizens of Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, we have started and will continue to do just that.

As your elected Member of Parliament, I will not stop in my advocacy to you–for us–in realizing all that we need to, to ‘keep our true north strong and free’ from the impacts of climate change.

John Sagman,

Conservative candidate

We all agree that climate change is a serious concern, there is no disputing that. I personally agree that rapid climate change has a negative impact on our ecosystems. As noted below, I have a vested interest in the health of our environment. 

I have chosen to join my wife in a little village just north of Manitoulin Island that is nestled between Killarney Provincial Park and the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy in the LaCloche mountains. We love that we are surrounded by nature and our lakes are healthy with bountiful fish. 

I originally hail from the West Coast with its towering old growth trees. I’ve explored these forests with my children and hope that they will be able to take their grandkids to these forests someday as well. 

I will always be one that looks to the future to protect Manitoulin Island and Northern Ontario’s biodiversity. 

Our country needs a serious plan to meet our objectives and meet our Paris Accord emissions targets by 2030. These are the firm action plans we need to implement to achieve our commitments:

We know that Canadians can’t afford Justin Trudeau’s Carbon Tax hike which lets the government tax Canadians and drives jobs and investment out of the country. Canada’s Conservatives believe in making life affordable, so instead of a penalty tax, we will introduce a Low Carbon Savings Account (LCSA) that will enable Canadians to save money every time they fuel up. These savings can go towards buying your first electric car or making your home greener. This approach to carbon pricing leverages the fact that Canadians want to “do the right thing” and are better positioned than governments to decide how and where they can personally invest in reducing their carbon footprints. It is essential that this plan be completely transparent. There cannot be one penny of the price on hydrocarbon fuels for Canadians and small businesses paid to the government.

We need to invest in new technologies that not only reduce emissions but also enables our resource industry stakeholders to be more competitive in their markets. The mining industry has made tremendous progress with the utilization of battery electric vehicles. A 50-ton haulage truck is now powered with batteries. Our logging trucks and farm vehicles can convert their diesel engines to run on a portion of liquefied natural gas that is less expensive and reduces emissions. We can invest in hydrogen fuel research. We will also seriously consider British Columbia’s initiative where 30 percent of all light duty vehicles sold are to have zero emissions by 2030.  

We will invest $3 billion between now and 2030 in natural climate solutions focused on management of forest, crop and grazing lands and restoration of grasslands, wetlands and forests. These solutions can have multiple benefits: not only will they help sequester carbon, but they can also provide protection for communities and additional benefits for wildlife. Further, we will invest in forest health and wildfire prevention/early detection.

We will also implement carbon border tariffs that push major polluters like China to clean up their act, while at the same time securing Canada’s growth.

Not only does our innovative, forward thinking plan allows us to meet our Paris Accord targets and reduce emissions by 2030, it will also boost Northern Ontario’s employment and the economy.

In closing, we need a firm action plans that is supported with sound government policies and technical expertise. The Conservative Party of Canada can “make this happen.” Change is required now to ‘Secure our Future’ by protecting Manitoulin Islands biodiversity and meet our Paris Accord Commitment.

Stephen Zimmermann,

Green candidate

For the Green Party, action on climate change is priority number one. Without effective action on this crisis, none of the other issues matter. The time for talking about ‘doing something’ has long passed; we need decisive and immediate action. 

While Canada alone cannot solve the crisis, we need to be part of the solution. Canada is one of the world’s leading emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) and at the bottom of the list when it comes to action on the crisis. The Green Party has a plan to deal with climate change that is clear, realistic, and in line with peer countries. Unfortunately, negative effects from existing climate change will be felt for decades. We need to bolster our infrastructure and plan for events like heat waves and forest fires more effectively than we have. The main cause of the crisis is the use of fossil fuels. The Green Party will reduce Canada’s GHG emissions by 60 percent by 2030, ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050. This goal is realistic and attainable and in line with peers such as Britain and the EU. How do we get there? We need to join the world-wide move to the ‘green economy’ based on use of renewable energy sources. 

The Green Party will end development of new fossil fuel projects, end taxpayer subsidies to oil and gas companies and phase out production of bitumen oil by 2035. The world is moving away from fossil fuels and Canada should too. In transportation, auto companies are focussing on producing zero emission models. Leading edge tech, these vehicles are better for the planet and more economical to operate. For instance, Britain will ban the sales of new gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030. By 2035, only zero emission vehicles will be for sale in most countries. This is what the Green Party of Canada has proposed. Canada should be a leader, ramping up production of zero-emission vehicles and improving infrastructure, such as charging stations. We shouldn’t be left behind. 

From frequent power outages, people in AMK know the electrical grid needs upgrading. A grid with more local generation and local storage is less vulnerable to outages and, for remote communities, lessens reliance on diesel for generation. The Green Party would ensure that all electrical generation comes from renewable sources. Solar and wind are obvious renewables, and Canada should make greater use of them. Biofuels, such as the fuel wood pellets, are another option, good for the planet and an economic opportunity for the forestry sector. Some wonder at the cost of ‘going green.’ What is the cost of not going green? We can’t afford not to act on climate change. In the pandemic, what if governments said, “no, too expensive to act?” 

Aside from avoiding destruction of the our planet, ‘going green’ presents economic opportunity. Responding to the climate crisis has led to new technologies, new industries. This wave of innovation, the ‘green rush,’ will transform our lives and our economy. It is the future. The rest of the world is already benefitting from ‘going green’ and Canada cannot afford to be left behind. For more info on the above and to see other Green Party plans for taking action on climate change, refer to www.greenparty.ca/en/ platform.