A local debate on the environment amongst Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo candidates in the Sept. 20 federal election was held on Wednesday night (Sept. 8), with all candidates in attendance, except Conservative Frank Caputo.
Transition Kamloops and the Kamloops Chapter of the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BCSEA) hosted the online debate, with all audience questions submitted beforehand.
Six of the seven candidates took part: independents Wayne Allen and Bob O’Brien, People’s Party candidate Corally Delwo, Green candidate Ian Currie, NDP candidate Bill Sundhu and Liberal candidate Jesse McCormick.
Caputo declined, with campaign manager Sandra Webb Smith telling KTW via text that he was unable to attend the debate because he has a previously scheduled meeting with small-business owners at that time.
“We found out about the event on Sept. 1 and, by then, his calendar was already booked,” Webb Smith said. “We asked if there was flexibility in the date, but there wasn’t.”
Webb Smith said Caputo is eager to speak on the Conservatives’ plan for the environment, but did not reply to a KTW query asking why the meeting with small-business owners couldn’t be rescheduled to accommodate the debate.
In a message posted to his Facebook page six hours before the debate began, Caputo explained his absence:
“Tonight, I’m meeting with small business owners who together represent more than 400 jobs in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo,” he wrote.
“It was disappointing because I’m always eager to talk about the Conservative plan for the environment, including meeting Paris 2030 targets, implementing personal carbon saving accounts, and investing in remote sensing and other technology that will improve the early detection of wildfires and better predict fire behaviour. The Conservatives are serious about climate change and I look forward to discussing these issues in other candidate forums.”
The online all-candidates’ debate was part of the 100 Debates on the Environment project, which is co-ordinating virtual debates in ridings across the country.
“The state of the environment and climate change is top-of-mind for so many folks right now,” BCSEA member Deb Alore said.
“This next election will be an opportunity to meet the challenge or keep kicking the can down the road.”
On Monday, Sept. 13, KTW, Radio NL and the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce are co-hosting a local online all-candidates’ debate at 7 p.m.
The forum can be viewed on KTW’s Facebook page or heard on Radio NL (AM 610).