Kitchener Centre candidates gathered to participate in 100 Debates on the Environment on Oct. 2, 2019.
As the event started, the candidates began by introducing themselves and their political parties. First was Stephen Woodworth (Conservative), followed by Mike Morrice (Green), then Raj Saini (Liberal) and Andrew Moraga (NDP).
Lastly, Patrick Bernier, representing the People’s Party of Canada, stepped up to the podium.
When Bernier introduced himself to the audience he stated his name twice, seemingly in hopes that the audience would connect him with the founder of his party, Maxime Bernier.
He addressed the attendees of the environmental debate, saying: “We’re all gathered here today … to talk about an emergency.” The emergency he referred to was not climate change, pollution or deteriorating wildlife.
It was affordability.
It quickly became clear that Bernier was not present to pose ideas or plans that would assist in protecting and rehabilitating the local environment. Instead, he wanted to discuss (often unintelligibly) the beliefs of his party.
“Affordability is my main focus here in Kitchener and homelessness and taking care of that,” Bernier said, “And more money in your pocket means more voting dollars every single day.”
His main argument for how his party will positively affect the environment is implementing tax cuts so that citizens can have more money to spend on taking care of Canada’s natural resources.
“Cautious spending,” he said, “This is the solution, tax cuts, letting people help shape the environment.”
The issue is that the average person won’t look at the money they’ve saved from tax cuts and immediately donate to an environmental protection fund.
In many of his answers, Bernier acknowledged that the dilemmas brought up were important but didn’t elaborate as to how his party would work to fix them.
This is in stark contrast to the other attendees who often referenced their plans in as much detail as time would allow. Bernier would typically leave the podium with plenty of time to spare, not bothering to flesh out his argument.
Bernier often stumbled through his arguments, giving vague answers and referencing information he was admittedly unsure of.
Early in the debate, the topic of depleting water resources and increased water pollution was brought up. The candidates were asked what the federal government could do to work with different sectors to reduce both water pollution and the risk of flood events.
“The PPC would work closely with local authorities, conservation authorities, governments to ensure that the watershed is protected, to ensure that the dam’s infrastructure is well maintained and cared for,” Bernier said. “This is paramount.”
It is a comforting thought. However, he gave no examples as to exactly how it would be implemented. Instead, he used short and sweet phrases such as “Water is the lifeblood,” and “We need to protect the water.”
At the end of the night, Bernier’s performance felt less like that of a political candidate and more like that of a highschool student showing up to their speech and debate class unprepared.