Election Report Cards on Climate Action

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Q&A reposted from www.soundthealarmos.ca

 

Sound the Alarm Owen Sound 

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Summary of interviews with Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Federal candidates

Alex Ruff, Ann Marie Watson, Chris Neudorf, Michelle Lawrence

 

Q1. Where does addressing climate change rank among your personal political priorities?

 

Alex Ruff gives climate change a score of 70% in importance. He thinks we cannot transition immediately from our dependence on fossil fuels; our economy depends on it and renewable energy sources alone cannot supply our needs. The hydrogen plant initiative of Bruce County and Saugeen Ojibway Nation is a great example of an emerging technology/industry that is local. Canada is a resource country and therefore cannot be compared to jurisdictions like Europe. Overall Canada is a very small contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions world-wide. If elected, AR wants to continue working with climate action groups, such as the Grey Bruce Climate Action Network. 

 

The environment is among Ann Marie Watson’s top 3 priorities along with Agriculture and Health Care.  She has been a farmer for 35 years and sees that there is an opportunity to link the interests of climate action with the agriculture sector. Currently farmers have their hands tied to fossil fuels with their equipment requirements, but the sector could be offered subsidies to go electric or use other fuels for equipment. This is an area for green innovation. Farmers are not recognized for their role in sequestering carbon. If recognized there is the potential for an offset program.

 

“Personally number 1, right up there with economic equality.”  Christopher Neudorf compared climate change to the apocalypse.  He mentioned he would support the NDP party plan to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030. 

 

Climate change ranks as Michelle Lawrence’s top priority. She believes climate change is also related to equity. The most vulnerable of our population are the most affected by climate change.

 

Q2. If you are elected, how will you work to ensure that your/the governing party addresses our commitments to the Paris Agreement?  

 

AR does not support a target of net zero by 2050. His party has no zero GHG emissions target. Their plan focuses on cutting emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030.

 

AMW plans to hold the government responsible, taking on a "squeaky wheel" mentality.

 

CN spoke of the NDP reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 and zero emissions by 2050. He noted the need for greater efforts to support modernizing farming to cut emissions.  “I’d like to tell farmers we will give them the tools to cut emissions.” (rather than exempting farming from the carbon tax). He also talked about reducing food waste to make farming more efficient and lower its GHG emissions.

 

ML noted that the Green Party has the most aggressive targets at 60% by 2030.

Q3. If you are elected, how will you work to ensure that your/the governing party stands up to the oil and gas lobby, and champion legislation to end fossil fuel subsidies and all new fossil fuel development permits?

 

AR does not disagree with lobbying, but he is not in favour of subsidizing any industry. AR believes in the oil and gas industry as it currently exists. “Market driven common sense” is what ultimately should drive change. The focus should be on “transition” over time, but market driven, not through legislation.

 

AMW noted that the Liberal government has a plan to reduce (rather than halt) subsidies to fossil fuel companies.  She will focus on scaling down support for fossil fuel production and sees some opportunities for our region, such as green hydrogen. She also sees farming innovation, such as closed-loop hydroponics, as possible. 

 

CN said, “allowing corporate power to influence government decisions undermines democracy.”  He said the $18 billion in subsidies paid to the fossil fuel sector by the Liberals should go to green energy. He is aware that these lobbying practices will be hard to break but it will be essential.

 

ML would work to ensure an end to subsidies. She feels we need to get the normal person on board through education. Expand charging stations for electric vehicles. Fund green technology. 

 

Q4. If you are elected, how will you support Just Transition legislation that winds down the fossil fuel industry, supports affected workers, and leaves no one behind?

 

AR prioritizes the creation of job alternatives to the fossil fuel industry so that those working in this industry are not left behind. The hydrogen plant is an example of these kinds of jobs.

 

AMW would look for local opportunities, like green Hydrogen tech, here in our riding.  She supports a “think locally" approach, a best-practice she learned with a "home biodiesel project" near Chatsworth.  Focusing on innovation in the agriculture sector, will promote transition to green tech on farms. When asked about development at the expense of natural spaces and development that comes with risks to natural ecosystems, she said she prioritizes "protecting the arable environment" and "protecting agricultural environments."

 

CN said he would halt subsidies and use the dollars saved to enhance green energy.  He said the new renewable energy sector would employ those displaced and companies would have incentives to ensure that the workers transitioning to green energy jobs receive equal or better pay and benefits. He is aware of some unions' concerns that the ambitious federal NDP climate action strategies may negatively impact workers in the energy sectors. However, he believes that there are many jobs to be created in renewable energy sectors which would easily offset lost jobs in the carbon industry. 

 

ML noted that the oil and gas sector provides 500,000 jobs. Agriculture far outweighs it. She would support retraining and funding for workers who need it. 

 

Q5. If you are elected, how will you support legislation that increases protection for our carbon-capturing forests, oceans, freshwater systems, and wetlands?

 

AR believes in a market driven economy rather than one controlled by government regulation. He does not see his role as having a great influence on the type of legislation developed by the Federal Government.

 

AMW will support the federal liberal practice of "working with provinces" to support protection of provincial lands and Conservation Authority work. She supports a “work together approach”.

 

CN said the NDP’s promise to protect 30% of federal lands is guaranteed but he would like to see that increased to 40%.  He feels we need housing reform and one way would be to look at unused housing (vacation homes, etc.) and ensure they are filled.  Chris emphasized that he is firmly against the destruction of old growth forests, as is happening in BC.

 

ML is especially interested in supporting Land Trust legislation to increase protection and incentivize stewardship.    

 

 

Q6. If you are elected, how will you support legislation that strengthens sustainable agricultural practices?

 

AR:  See Q5 above.

 

AMW says we need to have sustainable practices.  She would support/find incentives for farmers, such as paying farmers cash for [bio]sequestration of carbon emissions, for example with cover crops. She would suggest/support a credit bank for carbon and encourage "Environmental Farm Plans".

 

CN said he would use the “whole agriculture approach” providing tools for green production and investing in research and development to support farmers to reduce/eliminate emissions.

 

ML has met with OFA. She would support helping farmers with adaptation and new lower carbon technology.

 

Q7. How will you work to ensure that the governing party publishes, meets, & reports on annual targets for ALL above?

 

Question not asked of AR.

 

AMW points out that agencies report to governments, and she promises to hold their feet to the fire on outcomes, she spoke about a previous objective for an agricultural caucus to better represent rural communities, and a hope to revitalize this.

 

CN said caucus needs to be responsible to the people and that as the MP for Bruce Grey Owen Sound, he would work towards accountability to all residents.

 

ML wants to see annual target reporting. 

 

 

SoundTheAlarmOS demands our government:
 

•    exceed our Paris Agreement emissions target

•    commit to a fast & just transition to 100% renewable energy

•    halt fossil fuel subsidization

•    increase protection for our carbon-capturing forests, oceans, freshwater systems, and wetlands

•    strengthen our sustainable agricultural practices

•    publish, meet, & report annual targets for ALL above