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‘The clock is ticking’: Richmond Hill residents rally to demand CBC host federal leaders' debate on climate

Rally part of national campaign called Our Time
July 26, 2019
Sheila Wang

Dozens of Richmond Hill residents rallied July 18 in the centre of town to demand CBC host a federal leaders’ debate on climate change.

“Let’s have a real debate!” chanted the crowd of about 50 people holding homemade signs at the southwest corner of the intersection of Yonge Street and Major Mackenzie in the scorching evening heat Thursday, July 18.

The rally was part of a national campaign called Our Time, aimed at pushing for a Green New Deal and limiting climate change.

A Green New Deal, initiated in the United States and gaining traction in Canada, is a vision for tackling climate change and inequality at the same time.

Residents in Richmond Hill joined those in more than 30 Canadian communities to hold the peaceful demonstration at 6 p.m. during the CBC’s six o’clock news to demand the national broadcaster hold a federal climate debate.

Leaders' debates generally cover a variety of topics, such as health care, the economy and immigration.

“The clock is ticking!” Carrie Tai said. “This upcoming election is going to be the most important decision we make in our lifetime. At least in my lifetime!”

Tai, with the local group named Neighbours for the Planet, was among the community leaders spearheading the Richmond Hill rally. She cited a report by United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which says urgent and unprecedented changes are required to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The report said even half a degree beyond that will significantly worsen the effects of climate change for hundreds of millions of people.

In her speech, Tai told the demonstrators a televised debate on climate change is needed so the public can clearly understand what actions each of the federal political parties are going to take.

“We need to elect a leader that truly grasps that all these severe weather events that are occurring are caused by climate change and are only going to get worse,” Tai said.

As residents in Richmond Hill and from across York Region marched the street waving signs, many passing cars honked in support of their efforts.

“I was actually pleasantly surprised because it could’ve been five people,” said Liz Couture, head of the Global Warming Drawdown Richmond Hill Group.

Couture who wrote songs for the rally, led the crowd in chants on their march.

She said the assembly would be the first of many rallies in Richmond Hill.

The climate change activist also urged everyone to support the Our Time national movement, supported by, an international environmental organization founded in 2008.