Northern Ontario voters focused on the politics of climate change

Three northern Ontario voters focused on climate change size up the political promises and plans in this election and their hopes for the future of the planet.
Controlling climate change has become the top issue of the 2019 federal election campaign, but every party has a different plan for protecting the planet. (Erik White )

The Issues People is a series of interviews with voters in northeastern Ontario who live election issues every day and how that influences how they will mark their ballots on Oct. 21.

Antti Saari hasn't always thought about the future of the planet when deciding who to vote for.

"When I was young and stupid I read Ayn Rand and I thought that was the greatest thing," says the 71-year-old retired engineer and teacher in Sudbury. 

"But I've grown up since then."

He now drives an electric car, is part of a local solar power project and has been focused on what politicians are saying about climate change in this election. 

"I think about it quite a bit," says Saari.

"I'm really wanting to leave a better world for my grandchildren."

He says he likes the vision of the Green Party, but feels the NDP has a more concrete plan for reducing emissions and turning the tide of global warming.

Antti Saari, 71, is basing his vote in the Nickel Belt riding this election on the question of climate change. (Markus Schwabe/CBC )

Still, Saari, who lives in the Nickel Belt riding, says he is likely going to end up voting strategically based on who is likely to have a chance at being his local MP.

"I don't want to throw my vote away," he says.

Skye Little thinks about the environment every day and has worked to make his home and his Whitefish-based business Hia Media as sustainable as possible.  

"I think that we have to be aware of the problems at hand and I think that people are not taking enough time to consider what they're doing on a day-to-day basis," says the 42-year-old.

"It's always interesting to see where people lie. And will they follow through?" says Little, who will vote in the Sudbury riding. 

"Sometimes we have to live with what we've got and hopefully they're listening."

Kaitlyn Hunter, 21, is studying and voting in North Bay, but is originally from the far north Mushkegowuk community of Peawanuck. (Facebook )

Kaitlyn Hunter says at 21, she's too young to have seen the affects of climate change.

But the woman from the far north Cree community of Peawanuck says the elders tell her how the seasons are shifting, the animals are behaving differently and the permafrost underfoot is melting. 

"It's beginning to take a toll on the land and on the people to live in the northern communities," says Hunter, who is currently studying at Nipissing University in North Bay. 

"It's not as pure as it used to be."

Hunter will vote for the first time on Oct. 21 and doesn't know yet which party she'll support. 

She says she's more hopeful about the future of the planet thanks to the election campaign by "just seeing the progress throughout the month and seeing the parties coming up with action plans and proposals."

Saari too is trying to be optimistic about the next government and the future of the planet. 

"I am still afraid, but I'm hoping," he says. 

About the Author

Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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