The nine candidates vying to replace Elizabeth May as the leader of the Green Party held their fourth leadership debate on Monday with a focus on the North.
The candidates debated issues like food security and the northern economy over Zoom. Northwest Territories MLA Rylund Johnson and former Yukon Green candidate Lenore Morris moderated the 90-minute debate.
The majority of the nine candidates agreed on ways to improve food security across northern Canada, most of which centred around rehauling the Nutrition North program and the creation of a universal basic income.
Former Ontario environment minister Glen Murray argued the program should be controlled by territorial and Indigenous governments instead of Ottawa.
Environmental and human rights lawyer Dimitri Lascaris and immigration lawyer Meryam Haddad both agreed the program should be expanded to include subsidies for gardening and hunting supplies.
All of the candidates agreed that more money should be invested in traditional harvesting programs and local greenhouse initiatives.
More sustainable northern economy
The candidates were also aligned when it came to the issue of whether or not the North should transition away from a resource-based economy.
All of them argued the importance of moving toward a more sustainable and diversified economy.
Tech entrepreneur Judy Green and Ottawa-based lawyer Andrew West stressed that high-speed internet is essential for northerners to be able to participate in the worldwide economy and receive quality education. West also called for more investment in green energy resources.
Lascaris pushed for better investment in commercial fishing industries, tourism and arts and crafts.
Better investment into the North’s tourism economy post COVID-19 was also brought up by the only northern candidate, Yellowknife emergency room physician Dr. Courtney Howard.
Howard said tourism was “really ramping up” in the N.W.T. before the pandemic.
Howard said she doesn’t know if airplane travel will be widely used post-pandemic, and mentioned electric vehicles eventually achieving self-driving abilities.
Voting this fall
The leadership candidates have two more scheduled debates focusing on British Columbia and Ontario.
They had three previous debates focusing on Quebec, the Prairies and Atlantic Canada earlier this month.
Green party members will be able to elect the candidate of their choice when online polls open on Sept. 26.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: COVID-19 delays delivery of apology to Inuit residential school survivors in Atlantic Canada, Eye on the Arctic
Finland: Finnish gov agrees to formation of Sámi Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Yle News
Norway: The Arctic railway – Building a future or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic
Sweden: Sami in Sweden start work on structure of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Eye on the Arctic
United States: Alaska reckons with missing data on murdered Indigenous women, Alaska Public Media