Emily Vance photo - The Parksville Community Centre was packed on Monday Sept. 30 as people gathered to listen to federal candidates for the riding of Courtenay-Alberni at the All Candidates Meeting.

FEDERAL ELECTION 2019: Courtenay-Alberni candidates answer questions in Parksville

All-candidates meeting talks environment, economy, affordable housing

Five of the six federal candidates for Courtenay-Alberni were at the Parksville Community Centre on Monday night, answering submitted questions from the public about the environment, affordable housing and the economy.

Candidates (in alphabetical order) Barbara Biley of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, Jonah Gowans of the Liberal Party of Canada, Byron Horner of the Conservative Party of Canada, Gord Johns of the New Democratic Party and Sean Wood of the Green Party of Canada each had three minutes to introduce themselves. Troy Whitley of the People’s Party of Canada was absent from the debate. Questions were submitted on slips of paper, and read to the candidates by host Matt Breedlove. Each candidate had one minute to answer and could choose to rebut.

The event was sponsored by the Parksville and District and Qualicum Beach Chambers of Commerce, in partnership with the Arbutus Toastmasters Club.

The first question that came up was about the environment and was directed to Wood, about whether or not it is important for Canada to hit Paris Accord targets for greenhouse gas emissions, given that Canada only produces two per cent of global emissions.

“If we aren’t a leader, then why should any other country do their share too? So, we’re not going to offload those targets and get China or India to hit their targets. We’re going to hit our targets too, because we’re Canada, and we can do better than what we’re doing right now,” said Wood.

READ MORE: 2019 Federal Election: Meet the candidates for the Courtenay-Alberni riding

Johns spoke next.

“We know all too well as Vancouver Islanders… we had forest fires last summer where we couldn’t breathe. A lot of people with respiratory illness couldn’t go outside for two weeks, we couldn’t see the sky,” said Johns.

“It’s serious… we can’t ignore that climate change is real, and we need real climate action.”

Johns also noted that although Canada only produces two per cent of emissions, Canada only accounts for .48 per cent of the global population.

“We’re laggards. We’re triple our output when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. We need to do our part. We need to take action immediately. Canada is one of the biggest polluters per capita in the world. We can’t do this any more. We can’t push it to future generations and leave environmental deficits to them,” said Johns.

Gowans spoke next.

“It’s time for us to take the lead. People in my generation have stepped forward and are leading, and I want to help. I think this is the issue that’s going to define our time,” said Gowans.

“I don’t want to look my kids in the eye, when I have them, and tell them I did nothing. We can be two per cent, we can be a laggard, it doesn’t matter, we have to do our part and be a leader, or else the rest of the world has no reason to listen to us either.”

READ MORE: 2019 Federal Election: Courtenay-Alberni candidates address seniors issues

Horner pledged to help fight climate change, and stated that the current Liberal government’s carbon tax is not working.

“It’s unfair. Eight per cent is only paid by major polluters. You, and small businesses pay the other 92 per cent. It’s not working, because we’re not going to reach the targets that we set with the Paris treaty,” said Horner.

Horner said his platform focuses on technology, rather than taxation.

“We can’t win the climate fight alone… a Conservative government will have a significantly tighter emissions standards for major polluters, and we’re going to help take the climate fight global by a significant investment in Canadian green technology that we can export to countries like China and India.”

Biley addressed the environment movement in her opening remarks.

“The day-to-day reality for Canadians is expressed by the hundreds of thousands of people who marched in the streets last Friday all over Canada and throughout the world. These are the struggles that are going to take us forward, this is where we need to put our energy,” she said.

To watch more of the debate, visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PQBNews/.

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