Federal election candidates will have an opportunity to discuss climate issues in an online all-candidates forum on Sept. 7 for the South Okanagan—West Kootenay riding. The online event will start promptly at 6 pm Pacific Time / 7 pm Mountain Time.
The riding-wide forum, Election 2021 and the Climate Emergency, is being organized by two non-partisan local organizations — Fridays For Future West Kootenay and the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL). A similar forum is being held in the Kootenay-Columbia riding, and both are part of the Canada-wide 100 Debates on the Environmenthappening 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 Changeissued 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 throughout the riding have been asked to draft a question for the candidates. We will be hearing from First Things First Okanagan and Kootenay Outdoor and Environmental Learning Society 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 riding-wide forum will take place on Zoom (phone in options will also be available) between 6 and 8 pm. Registration is required: bit.ly/SOWK-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.