Polling earlier this month (September 13) showed that half of Canadians view climate change as an “urgent” threat, with another 40 percent viewing it as an “important” threat. This 90 percent figure is consistent with what virtually every major pollster has discovered this year: that Canadians are ranking environment and climate change as a top — usually the top — issue in this election.
This level of support for the environment has simply never been seen in this country, and politicians of all stripes are hearing the message. Candidates say they are eager to talk to voters about their environmental plans.
On October 3, they will have that chance.
In more than 100 communities across every region of the country, community groups have invited candidates from the major parties to local non-partisan forums to present their best ideas for how to protect the environment and prevent the looming climate crisis. Issue-based candidates’ debates have never taken place on anything close to this scale in Canada.
Through 100 Debates on the Environment, thousands of voters will fill community centers, gyms, and schools to hear from the candidates on how they plan to ensure a safe climate, protect important wilderness areas, reduce our exposure to toxic chemicals, ensure clean air and water for Canadians, and move the needle to improve our environment in other ways.
More than half the invited candidates (260) have already confirmed their attendance at these debates.
Candidates choosing to be absent on October 3 will be missing an opportunity to make themselves heard on this issue and can expect to be asked what was more important than showing up to address voters’ number-one issue. (Another poll released by 100 Debates on September 24 showed that 60 percent of Canadians would be less likely to vote for a candidate who skipped an environmental all candidates’ debate.) It will be hard for them to avoid the perception of being AWOL on the environment.
Candidates’ debates are often seen as pivotal moments in a local campaign, and MPs can often recall what happens at these events, even years after being elected. Just by attending these debates, Canadians will be sending a powerful message to whichever government is elected on October 21 — an unprecedented manifestation of the importance the electorate places on protecting our future.
To find more information about the debate in your community, visit www.100Debates.ca.
This opinion article was written for exclusive publication on pvbuzz.com by Ari Pottens, the Project Manager for 100 Debates.