Four Federal Candidates Gather to Debate Climate Change Solutions in Richmond

Representatives for the Liberal Party, NDP, and Green Party met in a high school gym to address saving the environment

Steven Kou (Liberals), Françoise Raunet (Green), Jaeden Dela Torre (NDP), and Joe Peschisolido (Liberal) debate climate during the “100 Debates” event at Robert Cecil Palmer Secondary School in Richmond on October 3rd. (Tristan Johnston)

With climate change on voters’ minds this election, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing so much discussion of it during the course of this election campaign.

On Oct. 3, four election candidates gathered in Richmond’s Robert Palmer Secondary to discuss the climate crisis. Among them were incumbent Liberal candidate Joe Peschisolido, Steven Kou (Liberal), Jaeden Dela Torre (NDP) and Françoise Raunet (Green). All registered candidates from both Steveston-Richmond East and Richmond Center ridings were invited about a month in advance, though neither Conservative candidates made an appearance.

Organizers asked all four candidates a series of questions focused on the environment, and in the last half-hour, allowed questions to be asked from the audience. Many questions were centered around pipelines, pollution, and local carbon emitters.

“I’m a volunteer with BlueDot movement, and GreenPAC reached out to those folks and let us know that [an event like this debate] was needed in Richmond, and they asked me, and I said, ‘Yes,’ because why not?” says Erzsi Institorisz, co-founder and executive director of Greenseeds Music Society.

She and several other volunteers came together to organize an event which highlights the need to have political discussions on how to solve the climate crisis. The organizers identify as non-partisan, and don’t endorse a specific party or candidate.

Institorisz says she was encouraged by the turnout, which was double what she expected.

Climate change has turned out to be a central issue this election, and while Justin Trudeau has met with Greta Thumberg and marched in the Montreal climate protest, many environmentalists feel that his actions don’t line up with the government’s purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.

“All of the money that the government will make on the pipeline will go into a green-tech economy fund in order to transition. We’re going into a new type of economy,” says Peschisolido. “One thing we will do, which the Conservatives will not do, is we will get out of the oil industry. We’ll also be phasing out coal very quickly, and these are two things which the Conservative party has said they will not be doing.”

He also notes that the Liberals denied three of the four proposed pipeline projects across Canada and banned oil tanker traffic in Northeastern B.C.

“We’re part of a generation that has a planet that’s dying, and I don’t mean to be very frank and cynical about it, but it is true,” he says. “I was actually at my old high school and a student said to me, ‘Why should we be living under the consequences of mistakes made by older people who won’t live to see what happens?’”

Dela Torre says that he and the NDP would vote to cancel Trans Mountain immediately. He also wants to see the farmland in Richmond protected.

“Most of our money comes from farms, so we need to make sure we have sustainable, healthy farming land, not just for now, but for later on,” he says.

Raunet believes that “the Liberal platform is tinkering with a broken system.”

“It’s rearranging the books on the bookshelf, but its not changing the fundamentals,” she says.

In her view, the Liberal plan doesn’t keep the Earth’s temperature below the 1.5 degree increase as deemed necessary by the Green Party.