This all-candidates' meeting got suddenly hot when these topics came up

An environmental forum Thursday in Malpeque riding was an orderly and genteel affair, almost dull, until the subject of fossil fuels and pipelines came up.

Fossil fuels, pipelines drive heated debate

All four federal candidates in Malpeque riding participated in Thursday's environmental forum at Hunter River Community Centre. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

An all-candidates' environmental forum Thursday in P.E.I.'s Malpeque riding was an orderly and genteel affair, almost dull, until the subject of fossil fuels and pipelines came up.

 "Corporations [are] starting to pull out of the fossil fuel industry and pull out of the tar sands," said Green Party candidate Anna Keenan, "because they know that they can't make a profit anymore."

'It's not tar sands,' says Liberal candidate Wayne Easter. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Keenan's use of the term "tar sands" — regarded as inaccurate and derogatory by many people, especially in Canada's energy sector — caught the ear of Liberal candidate Wayne Easter.

"It's not tar sands, it's oil sands," said Easter, addressing the crowd gathered inside Hunter River Community Centre.

"I don't really believe there's any way immediately to turn off the taps … Oil is going to move whether we like it or not, folks."

Investing more in fossil fuel is the wrong approach, says Green candidate Anna Keenan. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Environmental forums were hosted simultaneously Thursday in all four federal ridings on P.E.I.  They were organized by local environmental groups. Each candidate had 90 seconds to respond to questions posed by the host.

Candidates could also jump in, to say more, by holding up a yellow card.  They only had two each to use all night.  Most of the yellow cards in Hunter River hit the table during the fossil fuel debate.

Keenan credited social activism for making pipelines less attractive to corporate investors. Easter countered that pipelines are a safer way to move petroleum cross country, compared to rail cars.

The Conservative and NDP candidates discussed their own parties' clean energy plans.

Conservative candidate Stephen Stewart pitched his party's clean energy technology plan. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

"A Conservative government will proudly launch Canadian Clean brand," said Stephen Stewart.

Canada's carbon emissions are relatively low compared to some countries, according to Stewart, and provide Canada with export opportunities for Canadian products, as emissions continue to decline.

 "Market them as an alternative to carbon-intensive options that exist in other countries," said Stewart.

NDP candidate Craig Nash discussed specific plans for P.E.I. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

NDP candidate Craig Nash cited the work of former federal leader Jack Layton.

"Back in 2006, Jack Layton introduced the climate accountability office," said Nash. "We want to create 300,000 new energy, clean sector jobs."

Electric buses

Nash also told the crowd he'd like to see a tip-to-tip public transit system on P.E.I.

"And that transit system has to be electric," said Nash.

With the temperature in the room warming, a woman fans her face with a sheet of paper during the all-candidates' environmental forum. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Keenan argued any more investment in the fossil fuel industry was the wrong move.

"We have 11 years left to cut [carbon] emissions 50 per cent," said Keenan.

"We cannot invest a single cent more in expanding the fossil fuel industry."

Easter told the crowd Canada is losing billions of dollars in revenue because of the lack of pipeline capacity.

"We're selling cheaper to the Americans because we don't have any other outlet," said Easter.

More P.E.I. news



Brian Higgins


Brian Higgins joined CBC Prince Edward Island in 2002, following work in broadcasting and print journalism in central Canada. He follows law courts and justice issues on P.E.I., among other assignments.


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