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Election candidates debate environment and climate change in Truro

The five federal candidates debated environment in Truro on Oct. 3. From left: the Liberals' Lenore Zann, People's Party of Canada's Bill Archer, Conservative Scott Armstrong, the NDP's Larry Duchesne and the Green Party's Jason Blanch.
The five federal candidates debated environment in Truro on Oct. 3. From left: the Liberals' Lenore Zann, People's Party of Canada's Bill Archer, Conservative Scott Armstrong, the NDP's Larry Duchesne and the Green Party's Jason Blanch. - Fram Dinshaw
TRURO, N.S. —

Green Party candidate Jason Blanch warned the climate crisis must be tackled “so, so immediately.”

He spoke at the candidates’ debate in Truro Thursday. Joining Blanch were the Liberals’ Lenore Zann, Conservative Scott Armstrong, the NDP’s Larry Duchesne and Bill Archer for the People’s Party of Canada.

“This is not a partisan issue, it’s an emergency,” said Blanch.

The debate was hosted by the Nova Scotia Community College in Truro. Candidates focused on eight debate topics. These were cutting greenhouse gas emissions, protecting waterways, wilderness conservation, pollution and toxic chemicals, sustainable farming, sustainable fisheries, environmental racism and building climate-resilient infrastructure.

While passionate, all five candidates behaved respectfully and courteously towards each other.

There was even some light humour when candidates were asked about sustainable farming. Cattle are a major source of greenhouse gases, as they emit methane.

“We need to somehow find a way to stop cows farting,” quipped Duchesne to laughs from the audience.

His suggestion was switching over to more grain farming, rather than cattle-rearing.

However, nobody laughed when the topic of the federal carbon tax came up.

Armstrong said the tax, implemented by the Liberals, targeted the “little guy.” He said a Conservative government would make big polluters pay.

He pointed out people in cities have easier access to public transit and electric vehicles. But people in rural areas like Cumberland-Colchester do not have this option.

“I don’t support the carbon tax because I believe it’s anti-rural,” said Armstrong. “When you artificially increase the price of fuel that’s going to do some serious damage to the competitiveness of our economy.”

Zann later replied, “No, it’s not a tax, Scott.”

She pointed out people could enjoy rebates even if fuel may cost slightly more. Provinces like Nova Scotia who have implemented their own carbon-pricing plans are also exempt from the federal tax.

Zann also said a re-elected Liberal government will plant two billion trees to soak up carbon dioxide and protect 25 per cent of Canada's land and 25 per cent of its coastal territorial waters by 2025. This will rise to 30 per cent by 2030.

“I have been fighting for the protection of the environment, for water and soil and air for many, many years,” said Zann. “Water is sacred and I believe water will become the number one valuable resource in the world.”

Meantime, Archer pressed for a common-sense approach to environmental problems.

He questioned why aid was being sent to the developing world for clean-water projects when First Nations reserves in Canada are still going without.

Archer said a PPC government would let provincial governments set their own environmental policies, with Ottawa playing only a supporting role.

“We do believe that climate change is real,” said Archer. “We need to focus on the things we can deal with.”

Jody O’Blenis from the Veterans Coalition Party of Canada, Stephen Garvey of the National Citizens Alliance of Canada and Independent candidate Matthew Rushton were not present at the debate.

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