OTTAWA — More than 100 all-candidate election debates on the environment have been rescheduled for Oct. 3 after a conflict that originally put them on the same night as a televised leaders' debate.
GreenPAC, a non-partisan organization dedicated to electing environmentalist candidates, is helping to organize candidates' debates in 117 ridings that were originally supposed to take place Oct. 7 — the same date, it turns out, as an English-language national leaders' debate being organized by the Leaders' Debates Commission.
The commission saw the conflict as unfortunate, but showed little willingness to reschedule its event, said Sabrina Bowman, GreenPAC's executive director.
"I never felt that they were able to offer something that would really help address the problems," said Bowman, who wanted the commission's help in refunding deposits for venues that had already been booked and costs incurred by promotions.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the commission said it wasn't prepared to change its date, and believes its events "don't preclude any other debates from happening."
"We're always prepared to continue discussions with these groups and others," the statement said.
Despite the new date, some local organizers won't be able to reschedule, including in the Ontario riding of Leeds-Grenville, Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.
"This is a real shame as splitting the debates onto different days could reduce the overall impact" of the one hundred-plus environment debates, said Sarah Tuck, an organizer in the riding.
Cindy Toth, vice-chair of the Halton Environmental Network and a local organizer, also worried that their effort would go to waste due to the date change.
"So much was already in place, and while we may be able to re-book venues, the issue will be trying to achieve the high level of participation of local candidates," she said.