During the 100 Debates on the Environment election forum at the Canmore Civic Centre, Wellwood spoke of her love of the environment and nature, while at the same time noting PPC does not subscribe to “alarmism and fear” over climate change.
But it got too much for Wilson, a local Canmore lawyer, who said the NDP would declare a climate emergency if elected.
“This candidate does not believe in climate change … this is absurd,” said Wilson, who chose to use one of two wild cards allowed as part of the forum format for rebuttal.
“We do believe in science in Canada, we can’t be randomly saying how much we love nature, I think we all love nature, right, who doesn’t love nature? But the point is that as MPs we’re supposed to be using science not just facilitating myths and wrongly held beliefs.”
A crowd of about 100 attended Canmore’s forum of 100 Debates on the Environment, which were help across the country showing that concern about the environment and climate change continues to grow.
Despite overwhelming consensus within the world’s scientific community, the PPC doesn’t believe in human-caused climate change.
The party’s platform includes withdrawal from Paris Accord and abandoning what it refers to as unrealistic greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.
Wellwood said she is not a climate denier.
“The climate is always changing. I think the climate runs in cycles,” she said.
Following a question from Canmore Collegiate High School’s green club on climate change, inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden who has condemned world leaders for failing to adequately address climate change, Wellwood said:
“I don’t think those are her words necessarily. I think those are words that are being provided to her,” she said.
“They are causing her a great deal of anxiety and fear and I am committed to making very sound policies around the environment, but they need to come form a place of logic not from fear, or panic.”
Green Party candidate Austin Mullins said tackling climate change means overcoming “politics as usual,” adding politicians need to work across party lines to deal with the climate emergency through a non-partisan lens.
“We need to work towards emissions targets that are in line with recommendations of climate scientists and benchmarks of the Paris agreement,” he said.
Mullins said the Green Party’s climate plan includes setting a target of 60 per cent greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 and net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“That will help us meet a no more than 1.5 degrees global average temperature increase against pre-industrial levels,” he said, adding the party is also committed to maintaining carbon pricing and investing in a clean energy economy.
“I think Alberta has the best potential in Canada for wind and solar energy,” he said.
Wilson said the NDP would immediately declare a climate emergency.
She said the party would commit to science-based targets in line with Canada’s commitment to keep global below 1.5 C.
“We would commit to support the creation of of 300,000 good clean energy jobs and we would end subsidies to oil and gas companies,” she said.
Wellwood said there are no easy solutions and answers, but said the PPC does not “subscribe to the alarmism and fear” and plans to remove Canada from the UN Paris climate accord.
“We are calling for proper debates and scrutiny of data,” she said.
Of the 104 confirmed debates nation-wide, 95 have taken place with nine more scheduled in the coming week.
Of the debates reporting, candidates representing the following parties attended: 96 per cent of Liberals, 39 per cent of Conservatives, 79 per cent of NDP, 96 per cent of Greens, 43 per cent of People’s Party and 100 per cent of Bloc Québécois (for Quebec ridings only).
Banff-Airdrie Conservative incumbent Blake Richards declined an invitation and Liberal candidate Gwyneth Midgley reported she had a previous commitment.
For more in-depth coverage of the Canmore election forum as part of the 100 Debates on the Environment, check out next week’s Rocky Mountain Outlook.