Sparks fly over pipeline during Toronto-Centre debate

Ward 13 candidates discuss climate issues and more

Climate change initiatives and the Trans Mountain Pipeline were two of the many topics discussed during the debate between the Toronto-Centre candidates for the upcoming election.

The event was hosted by the Cooper Koo Family YMCA Centre, inside a second-floor conference room on Sept. 26.

Space for the room was near capacity with about 100 people present, as citizens who RSVP’d through the event site got early access in the venue as others waited to get inside.

The debate was between the four candidates for the party’s who got more than 5 percent of the votes in the last election. Representing the Liberal Party was Finance Minister Bill Morneau, with Brian Chang for the NDP, Ryan Lester for the Conservative Party, and Annamie Paul for the Green Party.

Going into the debate, many of the residents in the area expected to hear about the issues regarding climate change and the need to move past fossil fuels as a source of energy.

Mark Henschal, a local resident, came into the debate hoping that the climate crisis would be discussed in large detail as he believes it should be a priority.

“My primary focus is the climate crisis. It’s an existential crisis, and it’s something we have to do something about,” Henschal said.

“Fundamentally the Greens are the only people who are saying this is a crisis that’s been defined by the IPCC a year ago. The NDPs are a bit better than the others, but basically the Liberals and certainly the conservatives are paying lip service”.

Criticism for the pipeline’s purchase has sparked outrage for Canadians concerned with the climate change crisis, and with development going forward, the question of how Canada will reach the goal of having half of the energy resources to be green by 2030 remains.

“We have an awful lot of fuel to make up for that change and I don’t see anybody with a plan or where this green fuel is coming from,” Henschal said.

Trans Mountain Pipeline criticism

When discussion surrounding climate change and the Trans Mountain Pipeline began, the candidates were quick to criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party’s decision to purchase the pipeline. 

When discussion began, Lester used the pipeline as an example to how Trudeau had “failed”.

From a business standpoint, Lester argued that Trudeau’s proposed policy changes have become detrimental to Canada’s economy.

“Trudeau wants to get rid of an industry that puts food on the table of thousands of Canadian families, generates growth and wealth across this country, and pays for billions worth of government programs and services,” Lester said. “Justin Trudeau and Bill Morneau are just not as advertised and they just can’t be trusted to ever deliver on important energy projects like the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”

From the NDP’s side, Chang criticized the Liberal Party’s pipeline acquisition from a financial perspective while criticising the treatment of the Indigenous communities affected by the pipeline.

“The priority of the Liberal government is not the priority of everyday people here in Toronto. Spending $4.5 billion on an American owned pipeline out west is not a good use of our money,” Chang said when critiquing the purchase of the pipeline.

“This was also a violation of Indigenous sovereignty, and the Indigenous communities along the route have made it very clear that they did not want this pipeline going through their sovereign territory,” he said. “Implementing the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples must be the very first step before implementing any future energy projects across the country”.

Morneau was next to discuss the pipeline controversy and climate crisis, and he approached the situation with financial solutions.

“The reality is the fossil fuels that have gotten us to where we are today have created enormous wealth and have allowed our societies to grow and succeed, but we need to recognize that tomorrow we cannot be using the same sources of energy if we want to continue to live in a planet that is hospitable,” Morneau said when responding to the criticism presented to him.

“We recognize that there is a very important transition that we need to pursue, and we know, and I think many of you here who think about this, that the most important policy that we can put in place thats certainly universally agreed to among economists around the world is to put a price on pollution. If there’s something you don’t want, you make it more expensive”.

Annamie Paul began her discussion by asking the audience if investing in pipelines and fossil fuels would get them out of the climate crisis. The audience unanimously said no.

“It’s just simply not possible and is the reason why I joined the Green Party,” said Paul after the response from the audience.

“You cannot continue to invest in a future for fossil fuels in this country and at the same time present yourself as a climate champion. The sooner we understand that and the sooner the public insists that the politicians be honest with them about it, the better”.

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Posted: Oct 2 2019 7:48 am
Filed under: News