Two representatives from Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School in Orillia brought environmental issues to the attention of a Canada-wide audience last week, as part of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s first-ever Federal Election Debate from a Catholic Perspective. The debate, which brought together candidates from five political parties, was held on Thursday, October 3, at the Metro Convention Centre in Toronto, and was live-streamed to sites across Canada, attracting thousands of viewers in parishes and online.
Moderated by renowned political journalist Don Newman and introduced by Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins, the debate included segments on five major social issues. Each topic was introduced by a short video clip of individuals who are on the front lines of that issue. When the topic shifted to environment and climate change, it was Patrick Fogarty teacher Jeff Cole and student Emerson Garces who were chosen as spokespersons; the two emphasized Pope Francis’ 2015 environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’,” and asked questions of the candidates regarding their parties’ stances on environmental issues. Cole teaches courses in environmental studies at Patrick Fogarty, and partners with local environmental groups; Garces is one of his students.