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Ecology Ottawa organizing all-candidate debates to keep environment in federal election spotlight

The non-profit has organized virtual debates for three Ottawa ridings that are happening Wednesday and Thursday.
USED 2020-04-06 Ottawa River MV3
Ottawa River, Ottawa. Mike Vlasveld/ OttawaMatters

Ecology Ottawa wants to make sure Ottawans keep the environment as a top-of-mind topic as federal election voting day approaches, so they’ve organized a series of local all-candidate debates around the city.

Starting Wednesday, Ecology Ottawa will be hosting virtual debates in three ridings around the city: Ottawa West-Nepean on Wednesday, September 8 at 6 p.m.; Kanata-Carleton on Thursday at 6 p.m.; and Ottawa-Vanier at 8 p.m.

“We’re looking at giant crises like climate change and biodiversity loss worldwide, and Canada’s leadership on these issues is absolutely critical,” Robb Barnes, executive director of Ecology Ottawa, told The Sam Laprade Show on Wednesday. “So, we’d like to meet with prospective MP candidates and get them to debate the issues, especially issues with a local tie-in — like what action will they take as a local MP in Ottawa to address some of these big, global or national-level issues?”

For Barnes, the top three issues can be divided into three categories:

  • Natural environment: What are the candidates promising to protect trees, water and green spaces? What is their plan to strengthen biodiversity and nature?
  • Sustainable and active transportation: What is being done to help with transit, to cultivate safer streets for everyone? Any ideas for increasing mobility choices for Ottawa as a whole?
  • Climate change and energy transition: What are their plans for climate change and how do they intersect with city plans? How will they create green jobs and shape the economy of the future of our city?

“Our dream is to have the parties vying to out-compete one other in environmental issues. We know that each party approaches the issues with a different philosophy — I’m really excited to see the different visions and propositions,” Barnes said.

To watch the debates, people are directed to Ecology Ottawa’s website to register. The meetings can be watched through Ecology Ottawa’s Facebook page or on its website.

"We don’t have set answers, but we’re really eager to hear from the candidates, what their personal reflections are, their approaches and the strategies of their parties.”

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