Northern demonstrators demand CBC host federal leaders' debate on climate change

Dozens of people rallied at CBC stations in Whitehorse and in Yellowknife, among other Canadian communities, to demand the public broadcaster host a federal leaders’ debate on climate change and a proposed Green New Deal.

Rallies were held Wednesday outside CBC stations in Whitehorse and Yellowknife, among other Canadian cities

About 30 people took part in a rally outside of the CBC's Whitehorse station Wednesday. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Dozens of people rallied at CBC stations in Whitehorse and Yellowknife, among other Canadian communities, to demand the public broadcaster host a federal leaders' debate on climate change and a proposed Green New Deal.

"There's lots of questions to ask our federal leaders, and I think that this debate is the perfect opportunity to ask those hard questions and get those hard answers," said Braden Lamoureux, the organizer of the Whitehorse rally.

"Everybody deserves to know which of our leaders has a strategic plan to tackle this climate crisis."

About 30 people rallied in Whitehorse. They were led by two chanting girls with a megaphone, both of whom are too young to vote in this year's federal election.

The rallies are part of a national campaign called Our Time. The campaign involves young people pushing for a Green New Deal, which, in part, aims at limiting climate change. On its website, Our Time describes itself as non-partisan.

"It's kind of like seeing everything through the lens of climate change," said 21-year-old Lamoureux.

Braden Lamoureux is the organizer of the rally that was held in Whitehorse. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Leaders' debates often cover a variety of topics, such as health care, the economy and immigration.

Lamoureux said climate change is a worthy debate topic because of how many people it affects.

"CBC has the mandate to be broadcasting what the public wants since they're funded by public money and they really have a moral obligation," Lamoureux said.

About 30 people attended the rally in front of the CBC's Yellowknife station.

Thomas Gagnon-van Leeuwen, an organizer of that rally, said there were more than 1,000 people attending similar events across Canada.

Thomas Gagnon-van Leeuwen of Our Time speaks to demonstrators outside the CBC station in Yellowknife. (Walter Strong/CBC)

"Some people feel that climate change is overwhelming because they don't know what to do, and that was my case a few months ago, but this is something we can do: coming together to demand better from our elected officials and our media," he said.

Chuck Thompson, head of public affairs for CBC English Services, was asked for a phone interview, but sent a written statement instead.

"We know climate change is an issue that is important to Canadians and it will be reflected in CBC News' election coverage approach. And, as you know, we have covered climate change extensively," the statement read.

"We will continue to cover this issue. Separately, it's the debate commission who determines which media organization will host the official leaders debate. Any decisions around topics of the debate would be driven by the editorial group that will be producing it."

The Leaders' Debates Commission is tasked with organizing the coming debates (one in English, and one in French).

The commission says on its website it had hoped to announce the debates producer by mid-June.

"I can confirm that a contract has not yet been awarded," Charles Drouin, a spokesperson for Public Service and Procurement Canada said in an email on Wednesday.

According to Elections Canada, the fixed election date is Oct. 21.

Dene drummers perform at the start of a rally in front of the CBC station in Yellowknife. (Walter Strong/CBC)

With files from Steve Silva and Ryan Patrick Jones


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