Editorial: Election rules must not preclude climate debate

Climate change has to be a talking point leading up to Oct. 21 federal election

It’s up to voters to ultimately decide, when we cast our ballots this fall, which election issues were most important.

And no matter what Elections Canada is saying about third-party messaging around climate change, that has to be a talking point leading up to Oct. 21.

All parties should have a plank in their platform for how they are going to deal with climate change – it’s a necessary part of budgeting and planning for the future. That’s why Elections Canada’s warning to environmental groups that speaking up about climate change could be considered partisan advertising was so confusing.

While the Liberals, Conservatives, Greens, NDP and the People’s Party of Canada are all, to some extent, addressing environmental issues in their platforms, Maxime Bernier, leader of the PPC, has expressed doubts about the legitimacy of some of the climate science. According to Elections Canada, that one dissenting voice means that any group promoting climate change as an issue could be considered partisan.

Environmental issues – like health care, education, etc. – are something Canadians might agree or disagree about, whether there’s an election happening or not. We hope Elections Canada’s chill on advocates being able to speak up on the environment is enforced with a dose of common sense.

Of course we need rules around election advertising – it’s necessary to keep the playing field level, put the brakes on U.S.-style attack ads, guard against corruption and generally keep politicians and third parties honest about who’s supporting who.

But partisan politics are only one aspect of a greater responsibility and urgency to address climate change. We hope it’s not just a platform plank, but something this election is fought over.

RELATED: Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

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