Five candidates vying for the MP position for Scarborough–Rouge Park, the riding in which UTSC is located, came together on October 1 to debate before the federal election. Organized by the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), the debate was attended by a mixture of UTSC students and local community members.
The candidates included Bobby Singh from the Conservative Party, Jessica Hamilton from the Green Party, the incumbent candidate Gary Anandasangaree from the Liberal Party, Kingsley Kwok from the New Democratic Party (NDP), and Dilano Sally from the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).
The climate crisis
The Liberal, NDP, and Green Party candidates all indicated that addressing the climate crisis would be their top priority should they win the election, and furthermore that their parties would each approach the issue with a carbon tax.
Liberal candidate Anandasangaree said, “if we fail on climate change [then] nothing else really does matter.” However, he also faced criticism from both the Green and NDP candidates over the Liberal’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Hamilton commented: “[you] had four years to do whatever you wanted with your majority government and you still bought a pipeline.”
Anandasangaree justified the pipeline as a “necessary [evil]… in order [for] the economy [to be] able to sustain itself while we transform into a clean carbon economy.”
Conservative candidate Singh said that the “carbon tax is unfairly penalizing companies locally.” He suggested, rather, that carbon absorption would be a better option to address the climate crisis.
The PPC candidate, Sally, falsely said that “carbon dioxide is not a pollutant… [and] global warming has not increased natural disasters.” According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, at least 97 per cent of publishing scientists agree that the climate crisis is caused by human activities. Carbon dioxide is a pollutant that has concentrated significantly in the atmosphere over the last century due to the burning of fossil fuels, and increased heat waves and stronger hurricanes will result from the climate crisis.
Sally also noted that he does not believe in the climate crisis and cited evidence from an article in Talouselämä, a Finnish magazine, that features World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. Sally’s remarks prompted a strong condemnation from Anandasangaree, who said “your denial is just unacceptable.”
As per the Talouselämä article that Sally referenced, Taalas released a statement on September 12 that expressed that such a reading “is a selective interpretation of my words and my longstanding views…[and] it is highly important that we rein in greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Greens, Conservatives, and the PPC all plan to balance the budget, rather than run a deficit.
NDP candidate Kwok emphasized that with regards to the budget, the NDP “are for fair taxation.” Kwok continued that as part of their New Deal for the People they “just want the super rich to pay a little more” in order to prevent cuts to government programs.
Anandasangaree noted that the Liberals “do believe in running honest deficits.” However, he justified the policy, saying they carry a positive impact because they are investing in people and infrastructure.
When faced with criticism from Singh for the government’s failure to balance the budget, Anandasangaree responded by noting that the Conservative Party has not released a full, costed platform, saying that “I’m willing to defend our record, but at the same time, I do want to see a plan [from the Conservatives] that I can also scrutinize.”