Today, Commissioner David Johnston announced the Canadian Debate Production Partnership as the official producer for the two federal leaders’ debates. Following the announcement, Amara Possian, Canada Campaign Manager with 350.org and an organizer with Our Time issued the following response: “We’ve had issue specific debates before, organized in addition to the two “official” leaders’ debates. We’re in a climate emergency, and we need our emergency broadcaster to make sure that voters truly know who has a real plan to tackle the crisis of our generation.” Vi Bui, an organizer with Our Time in Ottawa added:
“If there isn’t a climate debate, we’ll be there on October 7 to make sure our generation and a Green New Deal for Canada are on the agenda. What doesn’t get debated, doesn’t get done. We’re going do what it takes to make sure party leaders debate climate change and a made-in-Canada Green New Deal”.
Authors, Artists, Indigenous Leaders and More Join Call for CBC Hosted Climate Debate
Naomi Klein, Yann Martel & Senator Murray Sinclair among signatories
Ottawa, ON – Following nation-wide rallies calling for the CBC to host a federal leaders’ debate on climate change and a made-in-Canada Green New Deal, some high profile voices are joining the cause. A letter, signed by authors, artists, and other public figures pointed to the escalating climate crisis and the coming election as a critical moment for the CBC.
“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,” the letter reads. “That’s why today, we’re writing to urge you to host a national leaders’ debate on climate change and a Green New Deal on the CBC.”
The list of signatories is expected to grow, and organizers have asked the public to sign a petition to the CBC’s editor in chief, Jennifer McGuire, supporting the call for a climate debate.
“Just this past week, CNN and MSNBC announced that, in the United States, they would organize a series of climate forums for presidential candidates this fall,” Clayton Thomas-Muller, a signatory of the letter, documentary film-maker and organizer with 350.org in Canada said. “If they can do it there, surely the CBC can do it here”.
Organizers have promised to continue building pressure on the CBC with plans to flood CBC radio call-in shows and deliver their growing petition to the CBC headquarters in the coming weeks.
“The CBC can and should make this climate debate happen,” Vi Bui, an organizer with Our Time Ottawa said. “We’re in a climate crisis, I really don’t think that dedicating a couple hours of broadcast time to the most important issue of our generation is asking a lot of our public broadcaster.”
Response to CBC Avoiding their Climate Responsibility
In response to a statement from Chuck Thompson, the head of CBC public affairs, claiming that the CBC can’t organize a climate debate, Amara Possian, an organizer with Our Time and Campaign Manager at 350.org, issued this response:
“Let’s be clear. The CBC can host a federal leaders’ climate debate with or without the Leaders’ Debates Commission’s permission. It would be a real travesty for democracy if creating the commission led to fewer debates, and fewer opportunities for voters to hear directly from their party leaders. We had 5 leaders’ debates in 2015. Surely in the midst of a climate emergency, our public broadcaster can host a debate that is in the public interest.”
The CBC also stated that it would be up to the federal Leaders’ Debates Commission and an editorial panel to determine the scope of the commission’s debates. Thomas Gagnon-van Leeuwen, an organizer with Our Time Yellowknife, responded with this statement:
“When more than 10,000 people asked the Debates’ Commission to organize a climate debate, they told us it was up to broadcasters. Now, the CBC is saying it’s up the Debates Commission. It’s clear that both of them have immense power and influence over what’s in these debates and if, as they told us, they consider climate change such an important issue, they can make this debate happen.”
30+ Coast to Coast Rallies Call for a CBC Climate Debate
Communities from Atlantic Canada to the Yukon turn out calling for the public broadcaster to organize a federal leaders’ climate debate
Vancouver, BC – Yesterday evening, hundreds of people turned out to CBC studios and offices across Canada to tell the national broadcaster to host a leaders’ climate debate ahead of the upcoming federal election. Dubbed the “Change the Debate” day of action and organized by Our Time, a youth-led campaign for a Made-in-Canada Green New Deal, more than thirty rallies took place all across the country.
“We’re in a climate emergency and people across Canada deserve to know which of our federal leaders have a real plan, like the Green New Deal, to tackle this crisis,” said Thomas Gagnon-van Leeuwen, an organizer with the Our Time campaign in Yellowknife. “The way we learn that is with a federal leaders’ climate debate. As our public broadcaster,the CBC has the power and the responsibility to make it happen.”
Organizers highlighted the impacts of climate change at the rallies in creative ways. Edmontonians wore dust masks similar to those worn by many people during periods of extreme wildfire smoke. Ottawa residents stacked sandbags that spelled out “Climate Emergency”. In Yellowknife, organizers drew attention to the northern frontlines of climate change, including wildfires that cut off communities and an unseasonal March heatwave that closed ice roads early this year.
Rallies that linked ongoing climate impacts and the need for a federal leaders’ climate debate also happened in communities from Halifax to Victoria where people gathered during the six o’clock news to stress the important role that CBC and the media play in ensuring voters know about the stakes of climate change, and how political plans stack up.
“In 2015, climate change was barely mentioned during five leaders debates. We know what doesn’t get debated, doesn’t get done,” Raj Dhaliwal, an organizer with Our Time in Vancouver, explained. “If we want bold climate action, respect for Indigenous rights and a truly just transition, we need a federal leaders debate on climate change and a Green New Deal”.
Prior to the CBC rallies, more than 10,000 people signed a petition to the Leaders’ Debates Commission calling for a climate debate. The commission responded that they agreed climate change was an important issue but that broadcasters would need to be on board for a climate debate to happen.
“The next federal election will determine who leads us through four out of the eleven years scientists have given us to significantly reduce carbon emissions in order to prevent climate catastrophe,” Swelen Andari, an organizer with Our Time in Toronto added. “We have the right to know how our politicians will rise to this challenge.”
Rallies Across Canada to Push for a Climate Election Debate
What: More than 20 rallies are planned at CBC studios and offices on Wednesday calling for the public broadcaster to host a federal leaders’’ debate on climate in advance of the 2019 federal election. Led by Our Time, a youth climate campaign supporting a Green New Deal for Canada, the rallies will take place during the six o’clock news and highlight climate change impacts and the critical nature of climate coverage in the 2019 election.
When: July 17th, local events start between 5:00-5:30 p.m. local time
Who: Rallies are being led by young people involved in the Our Time campaign, and supported by 350.org and allies of all ages.
Photo/Video Opportunities: Youth and local spokespeople will be available at all rallies, national spokespeople available before and after the rallies. Actions will feature bright, bold visuals calling for a climate debate and a made-in-Canada Green New Deal.
Our Time campaign launches to organize young voters for Canada’s Green New Deal
Largest voting bloc in 2019 election looking for climate action, social and economic justice
OTTAWA – Earlier today, the Our Time campaign was launched across Canada. With hub groups already established in Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax, organizers across the country are gearing up to build a massive voting alliance of young people and millenials united around a Green New Deal for Canada.
“Canada needs a Green New Deal to fight the climate crisis at the scale that science and justice demand,” explained Amber Dyck an organizer with the Our Time Ottawa hub. “Young people could decide the outcome of the Canadian election this October, the time of our political leaders doing business as usual is done, we’re tired of watching politicians fail to take this crisis seriously. This is our time to decide and our time for a Green New Deal.”
The website for Our Time, launched earlier today, details four key pillars for a made-in-Canada Green New Deal:
It meets the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.
It creates millions of good jobs.
It enshrines dignity, justice, and equity for all, ensuring climate solutions lift up all communities and reflect the reality that frontline, marginalized and Indigenous communities are bearing the brunt of fossil fuel and climate impacts.
It works in service of real reconciliation — respecting the rights, title and sovereignty of Indigenous Peoples.
“We don’t live single-issue lives and climate change isn’t a single-issue problem,” said Avery Shannon, an organizer with the Our Time Vancouver hub. “If we want to tackle climate change, we have to tackle inequality; from the indigenous frontlines to disability justice. Our vision for this Green New Deal is to address all of that and more.”
Our Time organizers are calling on politicians of all stripes to step up and take up the mantle of a Green New Deal ahead of the 2019 election, and are planning to organize across generations to make it happen.
“I’m no longer a young person, but as a parent and someone involved in the climate fight for years, this generation, this election, and this idea for a Green New Deal is something I’m committed to support,” added Clayton Thomas-Muller, Stop-it-at-the-Source campaigner with 350.org. “We have a climate crisis in this country all the while Canada continues to fail on Indigenous rights. The Green New Deal is a way we can line up to tackle both.”