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God and the environment among topics at all-candidates event

Parkside Centre hosts 12 of 16 candidates running in Sudbury and Nickel Belt

Health care, caring for the elderly and God's role in protecting the environment were among the topics discussed Tuesday at the all-candidates event held by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons together with Friendly to Seniors – Sudbury. 

In all, 12 of the 16 candidates running in Sudbury and Nickel Belt were on hand to field questions from the 50 to 60 people who showed up at the Parkside Centre to ask questions and listen. Watch the full event here.

It wasn't a debate, so it lacked the fireworks that sometimes comes from that format. But the night had lots of moments. While seniors issues were the focus, there was a lot of talk about climate change and the environment.

Bill Crumplin, Green Party candidate in Nickel Belt, said he's running because he believes the environment is the biggest issue on the planet, and wants to have a good answer when grandkids ask him “what the hell did you do about it?”

“I want to put the environment front and centre of this campaign,” he said.

Sudbury Tory candidate Troy Crowder was asked why his party dropped its climate change policy when former leader Patrick Brown stepped aside.

“How is a no policy policy a policy?” a woman in the crowd asked.

Crowder, who was recruited by Brown and supported him until he withdrew from the leadership race, made it clear that Brown didn't leave on his own terms.

“Patrick Brown didn't step down, he was ousted,” Crowder said.

As far as climate change policy and carbon taxes, he said such sweeping policies are too broad and often have unintended effects. For example, when Vale was ordered years ago to make big reduction to its emissions, it simply moved much of the work to Newfoundland and reduced its footprint in Ontario that way. 

In addition to a plan to plant a lot more carbon-consuming trees, Crowder said each challenge should be tacked individually, with government and business figuring out what can be done.

“Every situation needs to be addressed individually,” he said.

But Sudbury NDP candidate Jamie West said under that approach, we wouldn't have the Superstack, which has led to massive reduction in pollution levels and helped the city regreen.

“Sudbury looked like the moon,” West said, of the city's landscape before the stack went up in 1971.

It was the community and unions who fought for tougher rules, he said, forcing government and business to act. 

Sudbury MPP and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said a laissez-faire approach is not the way to address the biggest long-term threat we all face.

“We have to act because it's that important,” Thibeault said.

Perennial candidate David Popescu – who routinely runs to promote his God-based agenda – said the issue was best left to higher powers. The real problem was moral pollution spreading everywhere, such as the legalization of marijuana.

“God is in control of the environment,” Popescu said. “But you can't complain about carbon when they're legalizing dope.”

NDP Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas acknowledged her party's recent surge in the polls – and the Liberals' struggles – when answering a question about recall, a common populist policy that would allow voters to fire an MPP mid-term.

Supported by some of the new and fringier parties in the race – the Consensus Party, the Northern Ontario Party, the None of the Above Party, for example – Gelinas said the real issue was parties promising one thing during an election, then doing something else when it's over.

The sale of share in Hydro One, for example, was unpopular and something the Liberals didn't campaign on in 2014, yet they did it anyway, she said.

“That's why they are sinking in the polls, because everyone in this room was betrayed,” Gelinas said. “A lot of people are disillusioned.”

Voters go to the polls June 7.