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Three Cardigan, P.E.I. candidates differ on climate, youth issues

Jason Hogan, from left, of Young Voters of P.E.I. moderates a debate at the Lucky Bean café in Montague Wednesday night with Green candidate Glen Beaton, Conservative candidate Wayne Phelan and Christian Heritage Party candidate Christene Squires.
Jason Hogan, from left, of Young Voters of P.E.I. moderates a debate at the Lucky Bean café in Montague Wednesday night with Green candidate Glen Beaton, Conservative candidate Wayne Phelan and Christian Heritage Party candidate Christene Squires. - Stu Neatby
CARDIGAN, P.E.I. —

The Green candidate believed free tuition was the way to go, while the Conservative candidate said get out of the way of young entrepreneurs.

The candidate from the Christian Heritage Party said a firm no to both tuition and taxes.

Three Cardigan candidates offered these answers in response to a question about how to address youth under-employment in P.E.I. The three candidates — Green candidate Glen Beaton, Conservative candidate Wayne Phelan and Christian Heritage Party candidate Christene Squires — took part in an informal federal candidates debate at the Lucky Bean Café in Montague on Wednesday evening.

The event, organized by Young Voters of P.E.I., did not draw all candidates. Liberal Lawrence MacAulay and New Democratic Party candidate Lynne Thiele were both absent.

Beaton, Phelan and Squires fielded questions on topics including housing, trade, carbon pricing and a proposed basic income guarantee. Candidates were given only a brief one-minute time period to answer each question before they were silenced by the strike of a gong.

Two questions were posed to the candidates about the renegotiated NAFTA agreement, now known as the Canada-US-Mexico agreement (CUSMA). The agreement has yet to be ratified by the Canadian parliament.

Phelan said, if elected, he would vote against ratification. He said the 3.6 per cent of the dairy market that was opened to U.S. producers as part of the deal was unfair to farmers in the riding.

"They have had the rug pulled out from under them with the quota changes," Phelan said.

"When that gets taken out from under them, it ruins everything."

Beaton said he believed it was important to support supply management for dairy farmers. But he said he would likely support the new CUSMA agreement.

"I don't think we can get a better position. We might want a shorter NAFTA agreement at this point in time," Beaton said.

Squires said she was unfamiliar with the CUSMA agreement, but indicated she would not vote for ratification if elected.

“We would support our industries within P.E.I. and try to keep U.S. markets out, to the extent that it's taking over,” Squires said.

Some areas drew agreement from the three candidates. All three opposed the Northern Pulp effluent pipe, currently proposed in Pictou, Nova Scotia.

But a question about climate change drew sharply different answers from all three.

Squires claimed human-caused climate change was based on “biased science” and criticized Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.

"This girl, that little thing that came over from Sweden. 'Oh how dare you.' All this emotion! Cut out the emotion and get to the real facts," Squires said.

Ninety-seven per cent of climate scientists agree that warming over the last century is caused by human activity.

Beaton said the carbon reduction targets set out in the Green party platform were a realistic plan. The reductions aim to keep warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"It gets us to 2030 with a 60 per cent reduction in carbon and to 2050 with a zero net carbon," Beaton said.

"A two-degree increase by 2030 is enough for this country to be on fire."

Phelan suggested a number of ideas that are not mentioned in the Conservative party environmental platform. He seemed to support projects like the Trans-Mountain pipeline in B.C.

“I am a firm believer in getting that pipeline going and getting it going now,” Phelan said.

“But the pipeline shouldn't just be for oil because in 30 to 50 years it may be obsolete. So put a fibre-optic cable across the pipeline. If you want to, put solar panels across the pipeline. Don't do three different projects, do it all at once.”

Phelan also criticized the Green platform and suggested the spending required to carry it out was a “pipe dream.”

Stu.neatby@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/stu_neatby


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