Canadians hoping to push environmental issues into the forefront of the federal election will host more than 100 all-candidates debates across the country on Thursday, including several in Vancouver.
Debates are also confirmed in West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Delta, Richmond, Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria, Duncan and Sidney, B.C.
The initiative, dubbed 100 debates on the environment, is coordinated by non-profit GreenPAC, but individual debates are organized and hosted by local constituents and organizations.
Vancouver Centre constituent and environmental engineer Stacey Martlew, who worked with Simon Fraser University to spearhead Vancouver’s event, said concerns about the environment need to be taken more seriously.
“We’re hearing reports every day about climate crisis, rising ocean levels, the great Pacific garbage patch, the Amazon’s on fire, drought, air pollution, water contamination, list goes on,” she said.
“We just we need to elect strong environmental leaders who are prepared to take real action.”
Martlew said organizers have managed to put together all-candidates forums in 110 communities nationally, and that while the environment will always be the focus, the events are otherwise politically neutral.
She said all debates will have four common questions, focused on how candidates will approach climate change, water protection, wilderness conservation and pollution.
On top of that, they will also have a series of locally focused questions that aren’t being revealed ahead of time.
Martlew said residents can expect to hear about False Creek water quality and the Trans Mountain pipeline.
“I know I’m on the fence about who to vote for this election, so really this is an opportunity to actually meet the candidates and engage with them and have the public ask them specific questions about local environmental issues, as well as federal and international ones,” said Martlew.
“This is actually like putting pressure on these leaders, or our candidates, to put the environmental issues first.”
Martlew said Vancouver Centre Liberal incumbent Hedy Fry, NDP candidate Breen Oullette, Green candidate Jesse Brown and Peoples’ Party candidate Louise Kierans had confirmed attendance by Wednesday.
She said Conservative candidate David Cavey had told organizers he was too busy, but that she was hopeful he may still attend.
The Vancouver Centre event will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., at the Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Center at SFU Woodwards, 149 West Hastings Street.
Vancouver Granville, Vancouver Quadra and Vancouver East also have debates scheduled.
You can find the locations of those and of other debates being held around B.C. and across Canada here.