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Politics

Guelph candidates talk about protecting the environment

A flare stack lights the sky from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton on December 28, 2018.
A flare stack lights the sky from the Imperial Oil refinery in Edmonton on December 28, 2018. Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

The candidates for Guelph in the federal election are in the home stretch with only a few days before residents head to the polls on Oct. 21.

On a national level, polls suggest the Liberals and Conservatives remain locked in a dead heat well short of a majority as Guelph’s Liberal incumbent Lloyd Longfield seeks a second term in a riding that has long been held by the party.

READ MORE: Here’s where the federal parties stand on the carbon tax

There are a total of nine confirmed candidates seeking that job in this election.

  • Juanita Burnett — Communist Party of Canada
  • Steve Dyck — Green Party of Canada
  • Aisha Jahangir — New Democratic Party
  • Kornelis Klevering — Independent
  • Lloyd Longfield — Liberal Party of Canada
  • Mark Paralovos — People’s Party of Canada
  • Ashish Sachan — Conservative Party of Canada
  • Gordon Truscott — Christian Heritage Party of Canada
  • Michael Wassilyn — Independent
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Between door knocking, events, debates and phone calls, Global News managed to catch up with most of them to ask them some questions on the minds of voters.

As part of a series of stories, the candidates were asked about their parties’ plans to protect the environment.

Do you or your party have plans to divest Canada from industries that are harming the environment and invest in sustainable options? Do you feel it’s necessary?

Burnett: The Communist Party of Canada feels it’s necessary to stop harming the environment, so would close the tar sands and associated pipelines, cancel military exports, end Canada’s involvement in the regime change in Venezuela and other countries, and enact boycott, divestment and sanctions on Israel. We would also cut the military budget by 75 per cent, and invest in more sustainable jobs, and more sustainable sources of energy.

Dyck: We must eliminate fossil fuel subsidies including for coal, oil, gas, liquefied natural gas (LNG). In addition to the direct subsidies and tax credits to fossil fuel companies, it’s important that the taxpayer is not responsible for the expense of cleaning up the environmental damage created by those same companies. We must focus on transitioning to a low carbon economy rather than continue to fund an unsustainable industry.

READ MORE: Sparks fly over climate change, environment in federal leaders’ debate

Jahangir: The very first action item of our environmental plan is to take fossil fuel subsidies off the table. That’s $3.3 billion that prop up the oil and gas industry that can be used to transition workers into 300,000 clean, good jobs. We also need to protect natural heritage, by aligning Canada’s work with what Indigenous nations have already been doing for decades. We need to spend money on ensuring land, water, and air are protected across the country, by enshrining an Environmental Bill of Rights that would limit the harmful activities of resource extraction companies. We have a short-term goal of protecting at least 30 per cent of land and waters across the country.

Leaders’ Debate: Bernier says ‘we shouldn’t propagate fear’ over climate change
Leaders’ Debate: Bernier says ‘we shouldn’t propagate fear’ over climate change

Longfield: The Liberal government recognizes that climate change is real, and scientists have made it clear that the future of the planet is at risk. That is why the government took leadership and put a price on pollution — it is no longer free to pollute in Canada. Our government will commit Canada to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, which means any carbon emissions will be completely offset by other actions that remove carbon from the atmosphere, like tree-planting. Part of our climate action plan involves an effort to move Canada towards a green economy. We will achieve net-zero emissions by making multi-billion investments in energy efficiency, zero-emission vehicles, and clean power.

READ MORE: Trudeau pitches climate change plan during Arctic visit

Paralovos: A People’s Party government would completely unwind corporate subsidies (including those in the oil industry) in favour of a fair, level playing field for all businesses. I think we have a responsibility to use Canadian oil over foreign oil. This approach keeps skilled jobs in Canada and the $300 million per month we are currently spending on Saudi oil can stay in our economy in the form of jobs and inter-provincial trade. Currently we see foreign oil tankers off-loading their foreign oil to serve our eastern provinces. Why are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars per month for a resource we produce natively? This is low hanging fruit that any self-interested government would implement as soon as possible, for the Canadian good. A People’s Party government would do just that, using the Constitution to ensure construction begins, and Canadian oil is transported safely across Canada so we can stop using foreign oil brought across the ocean by tankers.

Sachan: We should all be concerned about climate change — about the kind of planet we will leave to future generations. A Real Plan to Protect Our Environment is built on three guiding principles:

  • Green technology, not taxes
  • A cleaner and greener natural environment
  • Taking the climate change fight global
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An Andrew Scheer-led Conservative government will work to export our environmental excellence and take the climate change fight global. For example, Canada produces aluminum more efficiently than the rest of the world. For every tonne of aluminum, the average Canadian aluminum producer emits much less than the average Chinese producer. A Conservative government will support aluminum production in Canada to support our economy and increase the carbon-efficiency of the global supply.

READ MORE: Four takeaways from the Conservative election platform

Truscott: Guelph has already been moving in the direction away from industries harming the environment.  We have a significant presence here of people with ecological concerns. We are moving in the right direction and I applaud this. It would be nice if all cars could become fully electric or hydrogen in five years, but there is good pressure to be ecologically aware and using sound practices.

Global News made efforts to reach out to Wassilyn and Klevering but did not hear back from their campaign teams.

Measuring climate change campaign promises
Measuring climate change campaign promises