-Britt Santowski, SPN
Three of four candidates appeared at the Sooke Climate Change Debate. The debate in Sooke was one of five debates that are happening prior to the election on October 19. The other debates are listed in this Sooke PocketNews article. This was the ONLY debate that specifically addresses environmental concerns.
- Randall Garrison, incumbent, NDP
- Frances Litman, Green Party
- David Merner, Liberal Party
Noticeably absent was Shari Lukens, the Conservative candidate.
I say “noticeably” on purpose, as there was a tremendous amount of agreement among the three candidates. It would have been nice to hear someone defend the decisions of the current government. Or at the very least explain them.
That the environment is a hot topic, perhaps a defining topic for voters in Sooke, was pretty clear in the high degree of interest: The house was packed, and the audience listened keenly to everything that was presented.
The event was well structured and well moderated. Mayor Maya Tait kept the event on time, and on topic. The event was scheduled to start at 6:30 pm and run until 9:00 pm, and the event wrapped up at 9:03.
The head nodding among the three attending candidates was plentiful. They all agreed on the importance of green technology, Aboriginal inclusion, green jobs with civilized wages. They all agreed on the problematic cuts to the Canadian coast guard. They all agreed that Site-C, and the Kinder-Morgan pipeline as it was, were bad ideas. They even all agreed on the driving need for electoral reform.
Their differences, the few that were, existed in the tools they would use to achieve the bigger-picture goals. To spend money (invest in people and infrastructure, and bank on a return), or to balance the budget? To re-instate corporate taxes to 2009 levels? To do another research report, or to just get out and do?
The one area where even the audience got riled was on the (unanimous) goal to unseat Harper should a minority Conservative government be formed. The question of working together arose, and passions flared. But the notion of unseating Harper was received with a solid round of applause every time it was mentioned. Again, agreement on the big picture, disagreement on the details of how to arrive there.
Yes indeed, it would have been nice to hear the views from Shari Luken. Instead, the audience had no choice but to periodically glance over at the empty seat and imagining what her response might have been, based on this government’s past performance.
Overall, Garrison said he had unfinished business in Ottawa on many environmental issues, and he asked to be re-elected. He assured us the NDP would bring about electoral reform, and the best way to see more Greens at the federal level was to vote in the NDP.
David Merner felt that the hopes in unseating Harper rested with the Liberals, and he ultimately encouraged voters to vote strategically for change in Ottawa. He reminded the audience that Harper had 39% of the popular vote, 54% of the seats, and 100% of the power.
Frances Litman reminded the audience that the Greens have long been the fore-runners of bringing up many of the issues discussed during the debate. And, she noted, the Greens is the only party where candidates are encouraged to represent their ridings instead of voting based on a party platform.
As for me, I found that all of the three candidates were each (surprisingly) likable. For the undecided voter, it will be a difficult choice. I could not help but wonder how much farther ahead we could get if these candidates could work together instead of in opposition! And, I was also very frustrated that the Conservatives were not present at this incredibly important debate.
I understand the Sooke Scoop will be posting a video of the debate on their website. I encourage you to check it out, and meet the candidates you don’t yet know.
If you attended the debate, please feel free to add your thoughts and observations below!