The White Rock Lake wildfire, seen here on Aug. 24. Photo: Roger Knox

The White Rock Lake wildfire, seen here on Aug. 24. Photo: Roger Knox

Climate-focused debates planned for Kootenay federal ridings

The debates will stream Sept. 7 and 8

Submitted by Citizen’s Climate Lobby

Federal election candidates will have an opportunity to discuss climate issues in an online all-candidates forum on Sept. 7 for South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding and Sept. 8 for Kootenay-Columbia riding. Both online events will start promptly at 6 p.m. PT.

The riding-wide forums, Election 2021 and the Climate Emergency, are being organized by two non-partisan local organizations — Fridays For Future West Kootenay and the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). It is also taking place as part of GreenPAC’s 100 Debates on the Environment, with similar forums happening in communities across Canada around the same time.

“The heat, drought, wildfires, and hazardous smoke we experienced this summer have woken more people up to the urgency of the climate crisis,” says Laura Sacks, who co-leads the CCL chapter. “We want to know what candidates plan to do to keep our world liveable.”

Last month’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its starkest warning yet. The report states that there is unequivocal evidence that fossil fuel emissions are propelling us towards a future that will make life very challenging for millions of people and species. There is still time to reduce the worst impacts if we act now.

“The climate crisis is already upon us,” says 21-year old Linn Murray, an organizer with Fridays For Future West Kootenay. “Our governments call the climate situation an emergency, but consistently are slow to act. We saw with COVID-19 how rapidly governments can respond to a crisis when they want to. We will be looking to our candidates to show similar leadership on the climate front.”

Invitations were sent to candidates from the four main political parties. Candidates’ responses have been favourable.

A number of local organizations from throughout both ridings have been asked to draft a question for the candidates. We will be hearing from Kimberly Youth Action Network and the Cranbrook Climate Hub among others. Youth will be moderating the forum.

“As a 17-year old who can’t vote, I deeply care who is leading our country and how they plan to manage our climate crisis,” says Michael Penner, who is helping to organize the forums. “Make your vote count for all of us who don’t have a say in this election.”

The forums will both take place on Zoom (phone in options will also be available) between 6 and 8 p.m. PT.

Registration is required. Register for the Sept. 7 South Okanagan-West Kootenay forum at bit.ly/SOWK-ClimateForum, and for the Sept. 8 Kootenay-Columbia forum at bit.ly/KC-ClimateForum.

Live Streaming will also be available on Facebook (Fridays For Future West Kootenay), on YouTube (Fridays For Future Nelson), and at fridaysforfuturewestkootenays.org/watch-live.

Canada Election 2021