Debates Commission Forces 117 Community Debates to Move
Friday, August 9th 2019 7:15:52am
TORONTO, August 9, 2019 - “100 Debates on the Environment,” an unprecedented initiative to provide voters with an opportunity to engage their candidates on the environment, has been forced by the actions of the National Leaders’ Debates Commission to switch the date of 117 community all-candidates debates across every part of Canada. The new date is October 3rd.
100 Debates publicly announced in early June that it would be hosting its community events across the country all on October 7, an announcement that was covered on CBC and other national media. Despite the initiative’s success in rallying citizens in 117 ridings to host environment-themed all-candidates debates on that date (complete list of debates here www.100debates.ca/debates), the Debates Commission decided last week to host the national English-language leaders’ debate on the same date. This action runs contrary to the Commission’s mandate, which states that it must not “preclude other organizations from producing or organizing leaders’ debates or other political debates.”
“We have debates confirmed in nearly a third of all the ridings in Canada, and our top priority is to continue growing,” said Sabrina Bowman, Executive Director of GreenPAC. “While the Commission’s actions are disappointing, we need to put this behind us and provide certainty for the hundreds of volunteers organizing debates in their communities.”
“When we launched this project with the goal of 100 debates, we knew it was ambitious,” said Ryan Worms, Communications Director at Equiterre, “No debate project of this scale had ever taken place in Canada - nearly a third of all ridings, and still growing. We know Canadians want elected leaders that care about the environment, but the support for this project has been nothing short of astounding.”
At least half of the 117 Debates have confirmed venues that will now have to be re-booked. Some debate hosts paid for the deposits on these venues from their own personal funds. In several cases, scheduling difficulties will mean that that they will lose the opportunity to hold these events and for communities to have this meaningful forum to engage candidates on the environment - an issue that pollsters identify as the top issue in the election.
“The 100 Debates initiative is getting thousands of Canadians involved in our democratic process,” said Emma Bugg, lead organizer in Ottawa-Vanier. “The Commissioner’s decision may be a significant setback, but we need to move on to ensure the climate crisis and other environmental issues remain at the forefront of public debate in this election period.”
100 Debates is continuing to discuss with the Debates Commission ways to collaborate to make both initiatives more successful.
ABOUT 100 DEBATES ON THE ENVIRONMENT:
100 Debates on the Environment is a project coordinated by GreenPAC. Visit www.100debates.ca for more information on the project and for a list of local debates.
Launched in 2015, GreenPAC is Canada’s non-partisan non-profit organization that works to build environmental leadership in politics. GreenPAC’s other initiatives include a political internship program on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, as well as a non-partisan endorsement program for aspiring political candidates with a demonstrated commitment to the environment. Visit www.greenpac.ca for more information.
For more information or interview requests including with local organizers, please contact:
Ari Pottens, GreenPAC, +1(647) 496-1975, firstname.lastname@example.org