A crowd of more than 150 people walked on Friday, Sept. 20 from the Ross Street Plaza, down Lakeshore, up to the highway and to city hall in Salmon Arm to hear a number of speeches on climate action. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

People’s Party of Canada candidate not given equal voice at Salmon Arm climate strike

North Okanagan-Shuswap candidate Kyle Delfing says he wanted to speak but wasn’t permitted

One of the candidates in the federal North Okanagan-Shuswap riding is concerned about not being given the opportunity to speak at #ClimateStrike Salmon Arm.

The walk on Sept. 20, which began at the Ross Street Plaza and wound up at city hall for speeches, was one of hundreds of protests around the world demanding action on global warming.

Kyle Delfing, the People’s Party of Canada candidate, told the Observer he Facebook-messaged the organizers of the walk early last week but received no response. He said he was then messaging with one organizer who was also involved with an environmental debate. He said he asked twice to speak at Friday’s strike but received no response to that question, only to other ones he asked.

He attended the gathering at Salmon Arm’s city hall. As the protesters were arriving, he said Marc Reinarz, the Green Party candidate, came up to him and told him he needed to leave.

“I was completely told to leave by the Green Party candidate because ‘these people are convinced, you’ll never change their minds,’” Delfing recounts. “I told him, ‘you don’t even know why I’m here.’”

Read more: Roots and Blues performer endorses young Salmon Arm climate change activists

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He said they got into a conversation about what each stands for, and then Reinarz went to give his presentation.

“It was rude. I’m not sure what he was worried about that day but he was certainly concerned,” Delfing says.

“All I wanted… was to tell the kids, yes there’s climate change, taxation will never stop it, it will only put you into poverty. The Green New Deal is 300 trillion dollars, the plan to get that 300 trillion is to tax you and to put Canada into a debt-to-GDP ratio that’s maximum, and that’s not going to be good for your life…”

He says at the end of the speeches he was approached by youth organizers and other protesters and was given about 20 minutes to speak to them as they were curious why he was asked to leave.

Reinarz, however, contends he didn’t ask Delfing to leave; “I asked him to stand back and not disturb the speakers. I might have asked him to keep the signs down.”

Asked if he thought Delfing was going to disrupt the speeches, Reinarz replied: “I didn’t know what to expect – there was nothing unfriendly about it.”

Read more: People’s Party candidate regrets comparing climate change activism to Nazi propaganda

Read more: Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

Julia Beatty organized the climate strike in Salmon Arm.

“I invited those candidates whose parties had platforms on climate change to say a few words. I think the People’s Party of Canada doesn’t acknowledge climate change, so why would I invite him to speak?”

She adds: “He didn’t contact me to discuss it, so I didn’t really think twice about it.”

Beatty emphasizes that it was a strike in support of climate change action.

“If you want to have your own rally, whether climate change is occurring, that’s fine.”

She adds that Delfing and his supporters spoke to people after the rally and were very respectful.

“They were welcome to raise their signs and talk to whoever they wanted… It’s their right to voice their opinions.”

Asked if Reinarz was told to tell Delfing to leave, she said she can’t speak for what someone else might have told him.

“That direction certainly didn’t come from me.”

Regarding speeches, she reiterates: “He (Delfing) wasn’t invited to speak and he never spoke with me about whether or not he could speak. If he wanted to speak, he should have spoken with me directly.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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