Huron-Bruce candidates square off in Port Elgin

Huron-Bruce federal candidates take part in an all-candidates meeting in Port Elgin Oct. 2nd, 2019. (From left) Ben Lobb [Conservative], Tony McQuail [NDP], Allan Thompson [Liberal] and Kevin Klerks [People's Party] (photo by Jordan MacKinnon)

Huron-Bruce federal election candidates were pressed on a series of climate change questions at an all-candidates meeting in Port Elgin Wednesday night.

Four of the five registered candidates took part in the meeting, which was attended by over 100 people, and the environment was at the forefront of the questions.

Liberal candidate Allan Thompson said the current generation is the first to recognize the severity of climate change, yet might be the only generation with an opportunity to meaningfully impact the changes.    He said placing a price on carbon is a good start, but there needs to be more.

“Most credible economists would agree putting a price on carbon is one of the most efficient ways to [reduce emissions], to convince people to move in the right direction,” said Thompson. “But it’s not just a strategy for reducing carbon, we need to be exploring alternative energy sources.”

Conservative Incumbent Ben Lobb touted his party’s plan for climate change, suggesting it is the most rigorous environmental proposal put forward by the Conservatives in his time running for office.

“Our platform ranks up there with any of the other political parties in regards to our climate plan, we have three guiding principles, we have green technology included in that, we have the natural environment and we have expanding the great story that Canada has to tell with environmentally-friendly oil and gas,” said Lobb.

NDP candidate Tony McQuail said the New Democrats plan to create a climate bank to help spur investment in locally-appropriate green technology initiatives puts their plan ahead of the others, and added there’s solutions across the county, including in rural communities.

“I know that there is so much we could be doing in agriculture, to be part of a solution in terms of carbon sequestration, and the other thing that I certainly feel is very important is thinking about how to redesign, how we manage our rural economies to dramatically reduce our energy use,” said McQuail.

People’s Party candidate Kevin Klerks said there has been a lot of talk and hysteria about climate change, but little in the way of solutions proposed.    He said the party believes climate change solutions should be fostered locally, with the provinces taking the lead of crafting their own strategies.

“I think what we need to get back to the basics – reduce, reuse, recycle – the things we learned in the 80s seem to have been forgotten and we have a lot of smart people out there who can bring us new technology, new green energy that can help adapt our current world into a better place to live,” said Klerks.

Green Party candidate Nicholas Wendler could not attend the meeting, but sent a prepared statement on the climate crisis, and promised Greens would cut greenhouse gas emissions well beyond what the other parties are proposing, while using Indigenous knowledge to craft environmental policy.