All five Saanich-Gulf Islands riding candidates put their best faces forward at Wednesday’s all-candidates meeting at Gulf Islands Secondary School.
The event organized by the Salt Spring Forum gave candidates a chance to make their pitch in opening and closing statements. They fielded about 10 questions from GISS students and members of the general public ranging from issues of climate change to First Nations reconciliation to debt management.
“I think the vote on Monday is a referendum on climate change,” said incumbent Green MP May in answer to a question about whether or not candidates felt Canada was facing a “climate emergency.”
“Tragically I hoped other parties would really up their game so I would not be standing here in front of you and saying only the Green party has a plan that has any chance of moving us to 1.5 degrees C,” determined to be the maximum temperature rise the planet can withstand without devastating impacts.
People’s Party of Canada candidate Ron Broda said he did not think the country faced a climate emergency.
“The climate is changing. It always has and it always will. Is it an emergency? I personally don’t think so, and even if it is, as a trained emergency responder in policing and as a licensed commercial pilot, I know the last thing you want to do in any emergency is respond in panic.”
Liberal candidate and Central Saanich mayor Ryan Windsor showed his green colours by stating he voted for May in 2015, that he drives an electric car and has made other environmentally sustainable lifestyle choices. He said the Green claim that Canada can achieve net zero emissions by 2030 is not realistic whereas the Liberal aim to do so by 2050 was achievable.
“There are a number of technological hurdles we will have to overcome. I am not certain . . . that we can overcome the technical limitations of the battery by 2030 that allows us to store renewable energy and power the world’s economy. Do I believe we can do that in 30 years? Yes.”
Conservative candidate David Busch referred people to his party’s brochure and website.
“What separates us from the other parties is that we are looking both domestically and internationally because at the end of the day we are all in this together, and even if we wave a magic wand and have our emissions down to zero tomorrow, if the rest of the world doesn’t do anything and it doesn’t get there, we are all in the same boat.”
Sabina Singh of the NDP responded that the NDP does believe a climate emergency exists and action needs to be taken now.
“Climate change and affordability for us are very related,” she said, adding that the federal government needed to fund all of the amazing organizations that are doing strong environmental work.
Candidates were asked how their party would move forward with issues of reconciliation with First Nations and the local Douglas Treaty, which has never been recognized.
Windsor said reconciliation first required sitting down at a table with First Nations and understanding mistakes that have been made in the past. He said he had pressed the provincial government to force the Capital Regional District to recognize the Douglas Treaty and allow those nations to sit at the regional district table.
“Having a voice at the table is where real change starts to happen,” he said.
Busch said existing treaties need to be honoured.
“If we don’t honour the existing treaties, there can’t be any reconciliation.”
May said the Green party is fully committed to reviewing all Canadian laws to ensure they conform to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and having all calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that apply to the federal government implemented. She said the Greens also accept all recommendations from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Commission report.
Singh said the NDP also supports aligning Canadian laws with UNDRIP, noting it was NDP MP Romeo Saganash who introduced that bill in the House of Commons, which was ultimately blocked by the Senate.
She added that “B.C. also has the highest number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and that needs to end.”
Broda said Canada treaties should be honoured and the Indian Act outlawed in order to make First Nations people “full partners in this country and equal citizens before the law and in reality.”
The only real inter-party conflict of the afternoon arose when the NDP was criticized for creating brochure materials that paint May and the Green party as not being firmly pro-choice and as being willing to cooperate with the Conservative party in Parliament.
Singh was asked to provide her position on the matter.
“As my [party] leader has said, you can’t PhotoShop what is already there.”
May defended herself by saying, “The words that appear in that brochure in quotes are words that I never said. The NDP should be ashamed for this conduct.”
A video of the one-hour event is available on the https://www.saltspringforum.com/ website.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 21.
On Salt Spring Island the three available locations are Gulf Islands secondary, Fulford elementary and Fernwood elementary schools. People should check the voter card they received in the mail for the exact location. One piece of ID with a photo is required, or two pieces of ID, one of which contains a current residential address.
More information about voting requirements is available at elections.ca.
According to Elections Canada spokesperson Andrea Marantz, some 25,107 people voted in Saanich Gulf Islands advance polls set up from Oct. 11-14, up from 17,618 who voted in advance in the riding in 2015.
• Ryan Windsor, Liberal, is the mayor of Central Saanich and a businessman.
• David Busch, Conservative, is a lawyer.
• Elizabeth May, Green, is an MP and was formerly a lawyer.
• Sabina Singh, NDP, is a post-secondary institution teacher and academic.
• Ron Broda, Peoples’s party, is a retired police officer.