An all-candidates meeting focused solely on climate change was held through Zoom by the Trinity Western Environment Club and Climate Crisis Langley Action Partners on Wednesday night.
Candidates from Langley and Langley-East participated in the meeting while Aldergrove-South candidates will get a chance to submit responses later in the week.
Langley candidates Mary Polak (Liberal), Andrew Mercier (NDP), and Bill Masse (Green) took part, while Shelly Jan of the Conservative party did not attend.
Langley East candidates Megan Dykeman (NDP), Cheryl Wiens (Green), Ryan Warawa (Conservative), Alex Johal (Libritarian), and independent Tara Reeve were in attendance.
Margaret Kunst of the Liberal party was not present.
During the event, a panel of TWU students asked three key questions to the candidates, which were kept secret and centered around local climate change issues.
Each candidate had two minutes to respond to each question.
Question one pertained to old-growth forests and how candidates and their party plan to protect crucial habitat for endangered species.
“I don’t think you’re going to hear anyone say that they don’t want to protect old-growth forests,” said Polak, who said the Liberals would focus on looking at a new stumpage system.
Wiens said Langley can make money in ways that don’t involve cutting trees down while Dykeman said the NDP would fight for biodiversity.
Mercier, Langley’s NDP candidate, said everything must be done in consultation with indigenous leaders to make sure everyone is on board.
“The Libertarians are against interfering as much as possible, but this is not good for old growth forests,” said Johal, who was opposed to energy pellets being shipped overseas. “The government is doing a poor job of being stewards.”
The second question dealt with sockeye salmon spawning and the fact that only 280,000 returned this past year.
Candidates were asked what they and their party would do to protect the salmon and their habitat.
Green party candidates Wiens and Masse agreed that people reply on fish for many different livelihoods.
“The Green party would take action to reduce net-based fishing and create incentives for land-based instead,” Wiens explained.
Polak suggested that the responsibility was shared with the federal government to manage water resources and that working together would be the only solution.
Mercier again referenced indigenous leaders and thought that, in spirit of reconciliation, conversations with local leaders would be best given their years of wisdom to share on the subject.
Johal felt from a Libertarian point of view that, though it was a major issue for B.C., private interest groups would be best to monitor and foster the situation.
”Farmed salmon that have been released into the wild are eternally an invasive species that is leading to natural depletion,” Reeve explained, adding that over-fishing is a concern to her as well.
The final question dealt with the oil and gas industry and how candidates would support Canadians in transitioning away from those jobs and onto green careers.
“We’re not in the business of picking winners and losers,” said Langley East’s Libertarian candidate. “The party would not funnel any more money in wind, solar, and hydro while the oil and gas industry can fend for itself. We need to stay out of it.”
Reeve, Langley East’s independent, said she is concerned about wind turbines, which she suggested are not as green as the public thinks due to the plastic and non-recyclable materials that goes into them.
Dykeman said the NDP is committed to reaching zero carbon emissions by 2050, but Wiens said the Green party would do it by 2045.
“Oil and gas should be developed,” Langley East’s Conservative candidate said. “They are important.”
Warawa added, however, that he would consider developing alternative resources that are not carbon based.
Langley’s NDP candidate said his biggest concern is the cleanup the 7,000 dormant and orphaned wells across the province that are the biggest climate liabilities.
Polak, Langley’s Liberal incumbent, said how we transition is one the biggest challenges around the world. She stressed that looking at options in rural areas is the only way to get a proper answer on moving forward.
Several anonymous question sent by spectators through Zoom were also asked and answered within a shorter response period.
Candidates were asked about the increasing amount of forest fires in B.C., which Wiens said invokes her eco-anxiety. She suggested putting an end to the spraying of glyphosate, a herbicide that she said makes plants and trees more susceptible to fires.
Reeve agreed, adding that controlled burns to rid the forest floor of dead foliage should be mandated.
Polak said the Liberals would implement aggressive measures to get waste-wood out of Langley forests.
Candidates were asked for more sustainable transit, which led to a discussion primarily on the merits of widening Highway one.
While Masse and Wiens were conflicted about widening the Langley stretch, Dykeman, Polak, and Mercier were in favour of implementing more lanes for rapid bus routes.
Johal was in favour of bringing back bridge tolls.
Roughly 15 minutes into the meeting, multiple people appeared on screen and began performing sexual acts, playing loud cartoon videos, and shouting lewd comments before moderator Natalie Cook managed to ban them from the call.
The host had not muted the proper settings, which allowed anyone to take over the screen when their voices were sensed.
More than 85 views were logged on throughout the event between 7 and 8:30 p.m., which will be posted online at a later date.
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