The writ hasn’t even dropped yet and the first community candidates debate has been scheduled in Nipissing-Timiskaming.

It’s part of the national ‘100 debates on the Environment’ initiative.

They’re happening October 3rd across the country.

Officials originally selected October 7th, but the Debates Commission decided last week to host the national English-language leaders’ debate that day.

At least half of the already scheduled 117 community all-candidate debates on the environment will now have to be re-booked, with officials saying some may not happen because of scheduling difficulties.

“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.

(File photo by station staff)

Filed under: federal-election-2019