10C and SDG Cities Encourage Guelph to Vote for the SDGs!
On May 5th,10C and SDG Cities hosted a Provincial Election Town Hall to discuss election issues connected to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With over 100 people registered both in person and online, attendees heard from three of the four major parties in Ontario. Candidates in attendance were Mike Schreiner (Ontario Green Party), Raechelle Devereaux (Ontario Liberal Party) and James Parr (Ontario NDP Party). The campaign of Peter McSherry (Ontario PC Party) cited a conflict with another event.
This town hall conversation was framed using the SDGs, which represent a shared global vision for sustainable, and inclusive communities around the world. The work of SDG Cities and 10C, in Guelph is focused on helping community members to see how the SDGs can be advanced locally through organizations, businesses and within government policy.
“The SDGs are a framework for action which set out clear objectives that can be used to help us hold our governments and elected officials accountable and act as a common language as we work for change across sectors.”Emily Hansen, SDG Cities Lead, 10C Shared Space
During the two hour discussion, candidates covered a wide range of topics with questions submitted from attendees online and in person.
To kick things off – a question from students in a grade 9 Global Citizenship class at Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI) asked candidates how their parties would support sustainable and inclusive growth of cities, like Guelph, while protecting natural areas, waterways and farmland? This question connects directly to SDG 11 which calls for sustainable and inclusive urban growth, as well as SDG 14 and SDG 15 which recognize the need to protect land, water and biodiversity, particularly in and around human settlements.
Healthcare, and SDG 3, was also a focus of the conversation. A question submitted by students at College Heights Secondary School asked candidates how they plan to address the mental health crisis impacting children and youth. A question from online participants asked candidates how they plan to help Guelph get a new hospital. To follow up – candidates were asked how they will support the growing number of people who are experiencing long term effects from Covid-19.
Attending in person, Evan Ferrari of Emerge Guelph asked candidates a simple question “what is your climate plan?” Climate action is central to the SDG framework – addressed specifically in SDG 13. A follow up question from students at GCVI, asked candidates how they would work with Indigennous communities to develop and implement climate solutions.
A question from the audience asked candidates “How urgent is the issue of basic income for you and your party?” All three candidates mentioned the basic income pilot as a good starting place. They also mentioned that providing a basic or guaranteed income can help address poverty (SDG 1), support local economic development (SDG 8), and improve access to housing (SDG 11), healthcare (SDG 3) and food (SDG 2).
Online participants asked how parties would address housing affordability (SDG 11) and ensure that housing that is truly affordable – especially for those on fixed incomes including recipients of the Ontario Disability Support Program.
A question submitted in advance asked “how parties would advocate and support Black, Indigenous and racialized communities who are combating systemic/institutional racism in our community?” Equity is a core principle of the SDGs. Reducing inequalities is also addressed specifically in SDG 10, which highlights issues such as income inequality, discrimination and systemic marginalization.
Education was also a focus (SDG 4) – recognizing that students and teachers have suffered throughout the pandemic. A question from online participants asked, “how will your party reinvest in education?”
Considering the keen interest from youth in the community, the candidates were asked what their message might be for young people – particularly first time voters – the candidates spoke about youth leadership and the importance of political engagement among young people.
“Let’s make the voting age to 16” said Mike Schriener, the current MPP for Guelph and leader of the Ontario Green Party. He also spoke about the power of youth leadership noting that the biggest climate movement in the world is youth-led.
“Greta Thunberg, a Swedish highschool student, has had more influence on global climate policy than any senior political leader could ever hope for.”Mike Schriener, the current MPP for Guelph and leader of the Ontario Green Party.
James Parr, running for the first time as the NDP representative in Guelph, encouraged young people who may be disengaged from the political systems to vote. He also noted a commitment to changing how we vote explaining that an NDP government will introduce a propositional representation system.
“An NDP government will bring electoral reform with a Mixed Member Proportional representation system to reduce partisanship and create more opportunities to work across party lines”.James Parr, NDP Candidate
Liberal candidate Raechelle Devereaux spoke about how the Ontario liberal party has rebuilt after the last election, with a focus on increasing diversity and bringing youth voices to the table.
“Our party has nominated 8 candidates under the age of 30, because youth need to be around the table making decisions about the things that impact them.”Raechelle Devereau, Liberal Candidate
The provincial town hall event offered community members in Guelph a chance to learn more about the SDGs and important connections to top of mind issues as we approach the election. Discussion of complex and interconnected issues like climate change, housing, mental health and sustainable growth highlighted the need for collaboration and strong leadership over the next four years. Vote on or before June 2, 2022 – find out how and where you can vote at www.elections.on.ca.
You can find a full recording of the event here.
Read more about how the election issues relate to the SDGs:
Elections Issues Coming Soon: