Tonight’s debate on the environment showed what debates could, and should, be in the future: accessible to all from home, with detailed questions and civil engagement by the candidates.
Nicki Ward (Green) and Hawa Mire (NDP) discussed about twenty environmental issues for 90 minutes. Both candidates were, frankly, very impressive. They had deep grasps of the issues, the history, the facts and the proposed solutions.
As you might expect in a debate between the NDP and the Greens, there was little difference on matters of policy. Both were against nuclear waste, climate change, and fossil-fuel subsidies. Both were for more consultation with Indigenous peoples, and for working with other levels of government.
They shared a similar style, too: each was refreshingly complimentary of the other, and there seemed to be kindness and mutual respect. I got the sense that they would happily work together to solve common problems if the chance arose. And, because the debate was online, there was no forced cheering and zealous applause by partisan supporters. What a relief.
While the candidates were both smart, fast, and in broad agreement, there was a difference in their relationships to their parties.
Hawa Mire knows her party’s platform in fantastic detail, and is able to quickly apply it to issues. She emphasized that there would be synergies working with Faisal Hassan, because he is an NDP member of provincial parliament. She also said twice that she would “push the NDP caucus” in directions that benefit York South–Weston.
Nicki Ward, on the other hand, emphasized that one of the best things about her party is that it doesn’t have a party whip. She is able to work independently, and for her constituents. “When you elect Nicki Ward, you elect Nicki Ward, not the Green Party”, she said.