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Ignoring Environmental Debates Will Cost Candidates at the Polls

Tuesday, September 24th 2019 8:57:49am

60% of voters say skipping environmental debates will affect their vote

TORONTO - With one week before 100 all-candidates debates on the environment take place in communities across Canada, a Mainstreet Research poll shows 60% of Canadians say they are less likely to vote for a candidate that skips a candidates’ debate on the environment.  A majority would also consider such a candidate to be out of touch with average Canadians.

The poll was fielded between September 6th and 8th and surveyed 1876 Canadians.  The poll has a margin of error of +/- 2.26% and is considered accurate 19 times out of 20.

“Poll after poll shows that the environment is a top voting priority for Canadians” said Ari Pottens, Manager of 100 Debates on the Environment. “Now we know there is a political cost for being AWOL on this issue.”

The 100 debates, each hosted by local community groups and businesses, are taking place in nearly every province and territory on October 3, 2019. Thousands of Canadians have already pre-registered to attend.  While more than 260 candidates have confirmed their attendance, and only a small handful have declined to attend, some candidates are still undecided about whether they will come.  

“Candidates from all of the major parties have confirmed their attendance at our two Oakville debates,” says Lisa Kohler, Executive Director of Halton Environment Network and 100 Debates organizer in the Halton Region. “There is a clear recognition that this issue matters in our community and we’re working with 60 volunteers to make these events happen.”

The new poll shows that 36% of Canadians say they would be “much less likely” to vote for a candidate that skipped an environmental all-candidates debate.  A further 24% say they would be “somewhat less likely”’ to vote for this candidate.  A majority (51%) say they would view such a candidate as “out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Canadians.”

The poll also shows that climate change and the environment is “very important” to 48% of Canadians when considering who to vote for in this election, and “important” to a further 29%.  It is “not at all important” for just 9% of voters. This support is strongest among those over 65, and among women.

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A full report on the poll is available here.

For more information or interview requests including with local organizers, please contact: Kate Belmore, GreenPAC, 647-457-3075, ​k.belmore@greenpac.ca

Launched in 2015, GreenPAC is Canada’s non-partisan non-profit organization that works to build environmental leadership in politics. GreenPAC’s other initiatives include a political internship program on Parliament Hill, as well as a non-partisan endorsement program for aspiring political candidates with a demonstrated commitment to the environment. Visit ​ www.greenpac.ca for more information.

100 Debates is a national initiative to organize inclusive, politically neutral, and environment-focused all-candidates debates in communities across Canada. Local collaborators include national non-profits, schools, individuals, citizens' groups and businesses. Most debates are scheduled to take place on the same day, Oct 3rd, in over 100 ridings in Canada. Visit www.100debates.ca for more information.