In June, the Canadian government declared a national climate emergency. The CBC’s journalistic standards and practices state that, in a time of national emergency, the “CBC makes itself available to get important information to Canadians in a timely fashion.”
That’s why today, we’re writing to urge the CBC to host a national leaders’ debate on climate change and a Green New Deal.
When it comes to the climate emergency, “getting important information to Canadians” means not just covering the climate crisis as other emergencies are covered, but creating space for our political leaders to offer their competing visions around solutions to that emergency.
“A timely fashion” in an election season is before ballots are cast on October 21st. By hosting a federal leaders’ climate debate, the CBC can fulfill its mandate and provide a critical public service in a time of national emergency.
Media organizations around the globe are engaged in an unprecedented reflection on how they cover climate change. Whether it’s the BBC, the Guardian, Toronto Star or even the Columbia Journalism Review, media are digging deep to find new and innovative ways to ensure people have the information they need about the climate crisis. The CBC has taken admirable steps – like the In Your Backyard series – but national broadcasters with the public responsibility of the CBC need to do more. You need to host a federal leaders’ climate debate.
Voters in Canada understand the importance of this issue. Polls throughout 2019 constantly put climate among the top ballot box issues. Every major federal party is making climate pledges, and by hosting a climate debate, the CBC can do its job and ensure that voters have all the information they need to make a decision this October.
Fires, floods, and rising temperatures are already ravaging communities. Climate change is a threat to people and the planet. We all have a role to play in responding to this threat, including the CBC. We hope you’ll take this letter to heart and announce plans to host a federal leaders’ climate debate with the urgency this crisis demands.
Senator Murray Sinclair – Retired Judge & Chair of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission
Naomi Klein – Journalist & author
Niigaan James Sinclair – Associate Professor, Dept. of Native Studies, University of Manitoba, Journalist, Author
Hayden King – Executive Director of the Yellowhead Institute
Bill McKibben – Author
Ellen Gabriel – Mohawk activist & artist
Melina Laboucan-Massimo – Activist, solar entrepreneur, artist & television host
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip – President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC)
Chief Don Tom – Union UBCIC Executive Committee
Chief Kukpi7 Judy Wilson UBCIC Executive Committee
Tantoo Cardinal – Actor
Eriel Deranger – Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action
Avi Lewis – former CBC host & documentary filmmaker
Maude Barlow, Council of Canadians, Honorary Chairperson
Josée Caron, Musician
Jennifer Hollett — Digital Strategist, Political Commentator, & Former CBC Journalist
Judy Rebick — Writer & former CBC host
Ian Capstick — Commentator & Social Entrepreneur
Sum of Us
Molly Kane — Executive Director, Council of Canadians
Stephen Cornish — CEO, David Suzuki Foundation
Sonia Theroux and Logan McIntosh — Co-Executive Directors, Leadnow
Jesse Cardinal — Executive Director, Keepers of the Water
Carole Dupuis — Spokesperson, Mouvement écocitoyen UNEplanète
Cathy Orlando — National Director, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada
Tim Gray — Executive Director, Environmental Defence
Ian Stephen — Program Director, The WaterWealth Project
Kathy Small — Executive Director, Glasswaters Foundation
Lucy Cummings — Executive Director, Faith & the Common Good
Svenn Biggs — Climate and Energy Campaigner, Stand.Earth
Stephen Thomas — Energy Campaign Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre
Guy Dauncey — President, Yellow Point Ecological Society
Climate Justice Saskatoon
Peter McCartney — Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee
Alex Speers-Roesch — Greenpeace Canada, Head of Climate Campaign
Karen Wristen — Executive Director, Living Oceans Society
Rosemary Neaves — Chair, Crooked Creek Conservancy Society of Athabasca
Dear Jennifer McGuire, CBC editor in chief and manager,
The federal election is around the corner. The CBC needs to host a leaders’ debate on climate change and the only real solution to this crisis: a Green New Deal for Canada.
The CBC’s journalistic standards and practices state that it’s their responsibility, in the event of a national emergency, to provide important and timely information to the people. On June 19th, Canada declared a state of climate emergency and since then, we’ve seen wildfires, drought and extreme heat across the country. The best way for the CBC to respond to this emergency is to host a federal leaders debate on climate.
As the CBC’s senior management, you have the power to make this debate happen. People are calling on you to step up, tell the truth, and make sure we have the information we need to elect a government that will deal with the climate crisis.
A Green New Deal is an ambitious vision for tackling the climate crisis in a way that also addresses other crises we face, from job losses and affordable housing, to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and stopping the rise of racism. People from all walks of life are convening to define exactly what it will look like. Learn more about the national movement to create Canada’s Green New Deal.
Why call on the CBC?
The CBC is our public broadcaster, funded by public money. So, we’re calling on them to act in the public interest by hosting a debate on the most urgent crisis of our time. They also have a responsibility to play a key role sharing critical information on national emergencies, like the climate emergency our government declared in mid-June. We want every broadcaster in Canada, and the Leaders’ Debates Commission, to pay attention and that’s why we’ll be taking action all across the country.
The CBC has also listened to us when it comes to covering climate change. Just a few weeks ago, after thousands of us called out the CBC on twitter for refusing to call climate change a crisis, the CBC announced their new climate change reporting project. The CBC said they launched this project because people like you have been “asking the media to do a better job by providing more facts about what is happening and more coverage of possible solutions.” Hosting a federal leaders’ debate on climate change and a Green New Deal would be another step in the right direction.
Why focus on the debates?
We know that winning a Green New Deal will mean mobilizing an unprecedented youth and millennial voter base in the 2019 election. But as we get closer and closer to the election, we have to make sure that every federal party leader and political hopeful is prepared to speak to a Green New Deal and why it is absolutely essential for responding to climate change and rising inequality.
Millions of people tune in to watch the debates and every single major media outlet in the country covers them. For a massive number of voters, these debates are or the first time they get a sense of the biggest issues in the election. People deserve to know who has a real plan to tackle climate change, and who is just blowing hot air.