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Federal Candidates for Nipissing-Timiskaming square off over climate change

'I wasn’t 100 per cent certain but I think going in and seeing this debate, I am 100 per cent certain now. It just helped solidify my view on who I was going to vote for' Braden Kotyk third-year political science student

Dan Goulard is a 4th year political science major at Nipissing University.

He worries if he will have a job waiting for him when he graduates.

“I want to be able to make sure that not only for myself but future graduates that are going to come after me, that there are going to be jobs that are in place for us to be able to not only work within the city but be able to contribute in terms of the economy.”

Goulard was one of many students who took advantage of the Federal Election Debate hosted by the Retired Teachers of Ontario, the Canadore Students’ Council and Nipissing University Student Union (NUSU), to ask candidates running federally in the riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming, about party policy on several issues.

Candidates Alex Gomm of the Green Party, Conservative Jordy Carr, Liberal Antony Rota and the “new kid on the block” Mark King of the newly formed People’s Party of Canada (PPC) took to the stage at the Nipissing University theatre to address their concerns.  

“I was satisfied with aspects of some of the responses from some of the candidates, but I feel good that there are some parties out there that do look to be able to create jobs for myself,” said Goulard.

“I still have information that I want to look at in my own time and be able to educate myself so that the vote that I do make in October will be the one that will push our community moving forward.”

Candidates were asked a series of prepared questions, followed by questions from the audience.

Topics included pharmacare, income security and pension plans, jobs and education, refugees and gun control. But climate change was the central issue of the debate.  

“The real issue of this day and age is climate change. I think it is important that Canada take a place on the world stage pushing for a cleaner environment and better climate in general,” said Braden Kotyk a third-year political science student at Nipissing University.

“And in terms of OSAP and things like that, I think they did a good job. I liked that considering the cutbacks there was interest around that and making changes and the Green Party offering free tuition.  As a student that is a real pressing concern for me of course. “

Kotyk left the debate feeling confident about his choice on election day.  

“I wasn’t 100 per cent certain but I think going in and seeing this debate, I am 100 per cent certain now. It just helped solidify my view on who I was going to vote for.”

Alex Gomm, representative of the Green Party told the audience that Canadians are at a very defining moment in human history and tough choices must be made globally.

“The Green Party is devoted to supporting green tech start ups and to support businesses that are transitioning to being more green. Another central part of our platform is to stop subsidies to multi-national corporations that are engaged in very destructive ecological practices.”

Conservative candidate Jordy Carr said it is possible to create jobs without increasing emissions.

“We can actually create more jobs in Canada through technology growth while at the same time lowering global emissions. We believe that you need to deal with the polluters and not the commuters. We can’t afford to continue to pay carbon tax and not deal with the carbon issue.”

PPC candidate Mark King told the crowd climate change is a global issue, not a national issue.

“The carbon output by the country of Canada is literally only 1.6 percent of the overall carbon put out by all the other countries in the world,” said King.

“There are some 18-hundred coal fire plants that are being built around the world in such as Indian and China. The issue really is that Canada is not an emitter, we actually are an extremely clean country but certainly something has to be done on the world front to make that happen. The overall policy at this particular point with the PPC is, we would revert to the province in order to administer those issues around climate change.”

Nipissing-Timiskaming candidate Anthony Rota said denying climate change is not going to make it go away.

“We made an announcement that we want to see the economy and environment work together. By working together, we want to take advantage of companies that have a green agenda, and actually build machinery and have technology that makes us better as Canadians. By doing this we can become leaders in the area of green energy. We’re there now, but we have to keep it up and make sure it is going. One of the things we plan on doing is cutting tax rates on businesses who actually produce green energy and green material.”

Campaign tables gave students some one-on-one time with candidates before and after the debate.  

“I think the students are very engaged. I think they’re quite worried,” said Sarah McGowan director of communications for the Nipissing University Student Union and a debate organizer.

“I think they want to look at policies and unfortunately some political parties  aren’t putting out their policies in a full capacity, so they don’t really know where to look. I think the students want to have a voice in this and want to make sure that their future is looked after,” said McGowan.

”Their biggest issues are climate change, jobs and education. Students are genuinely concerned about the environment and what is happening right now, and they’re also concerned about what happens after they graduate. They want to make sure the economy is a sustainable one but also a green one.”

Sharon Walker is chair of the political issues committee for the Retired Teachers of Ontario District 43.

Walker says students are very engaged in this election.

“They’re really, really listening. And they’re making a decision based on what they’re seeing and hearing. I hope last time we increased the student vote by quite a significant number, and I hope it is done again this time, because they are the future.”

Watch the entire debate online: