Green Canada?

The landscape of Canadian politics changed last night.

For me, the results are mixed.  As I have said before, my number one issue is the environment, and most specifically – action on climate change.  We have such a limited window of time to reduce our emissions, we have to act now.  We don’t have the luxury of decades to wait, to finish up our squabbling and arguing, we have to get going on this right here right now, today, within the next few years for sure.  Every moment counts.  Every country must participate. Canada is no longer immune.

So far, action on climate change in Canada has been slow, and some might say – nonexistent.  As a result, some municipalities and provinces are taking the bull by the horns and implementing policies and programs on their own.  However, there is no national leadership, no national plan, no national will to act.

In this context, I watched the election results roll in with hope and optimism and anxiety.

First the good news –Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, was elected in her riding on Vancouver Island.  This is a historic achievement for the Green Party, as they will now have a voice in parliament.  It may only be one voice out of 308 seats, but a voice for change and a voice for action on climate change it will be.  I hope that this small foothold will grow, and that more and more people will consider the Green Party as a voice they want to send to parliament.  Change is possible!

Second piece of good news – the candidate in my riding, Linda Duncan of the NDP, won her seat.  Linda is the environmental critic for the NDP, and is a long time defender of the environment.  I know she will work hard, so I voted for her, and even had her sign on my lawn.  She was the only NDP elected in Alberta, amongst a sea of Conservatives.

Thirdly – the NDP won over 100 seats, giving them the title of official opposition, a historical first for the party.  The NDP is the only party other than the Green Party that had a strong position on climate change and transitioning to a clean, green economy.  This boost in seats will give them a bigger base on which to carry out their message.  Hopefully the governing party will listen.

This leads me to the not so great news for the environment.  The Conservatives won their long-coveted majority government.  They have been operating as a minority government for years now, and have often complained that a minority situation makes it difficult to get things done.  With a minority, they have to co-operate with the other parties to get things passed, they have to make concessions.  It is a longer process, and perhaps not as efficient, but at least with a minority, the voices of the other parties are part of the discussion.  They have input into policies and programs, compromises are made. 

With a majority, the voices of the other parties are not worked into new legislation. The governing party can pass every bill it wants, no adjustments are necessary.  It is more efficient, yes.

But it is also scarier.  Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have never had this much power before.  What will they do?  What will they cut? 

By far my biggest concern though, is that it will be 4 long years before there is any hope of action climate change.  We know Stephen Harper’s stance to date – do nothing and hope that the rest of the world does not notice.  How can we expect any change, especially if he does not need to consider the opinions of the other parties, who have a much more reasonable stance on climate change?

All this had me feeling very worried last night.  Worried for the future of my children, worried for our world, worried that nothing will change and nothing will get done, despite the efforts of so many.  I felt deflated.  I felt frustrated.  Everyday I live my life with the hope on reducing my footprint, the hope of inspiring others, the hope that we are moving in the right direction.  This is not just some dream, it is a desperate requirement.  Climate change is coming, it is marching towards us, and we are just standing around picking flowers.  How will we ever wakeup from this ignorant bliss, if climate change is not even an election issue in Canada? 

The situation seems more desperate than ever.  It seems even less likely now, with a Conservative majority that any action on climate change will happen.  I hope that the NDP will have some influence, I hope Elizabeth May’s Green Party voice will be heard.  But I am not sure.

Instead of give up hope, I must press on.  Without hope, we have already lost.  I cannot give up on a bright future for my children; I cannot give up on a sustainable future for the children of this world.  It is so big, so seemingly insurmountable, and I am but one small voice.  Yet I must try.  To look up at this massive problem and do nothing – that would be a greater failure.  I want to be able to look my kids in the eyes one day and say that I tried my best.

And so – the letter writing will continue.  The blog writing will continue.  The eating locally and the growing of vegetables in my own garden will continue.  The measured use of electricity and fuel will continue.  The reduction of the consumption of needless stuff will continue.

I must hold on to hope, for my babies.


8 thoughts on “Green Canada?

  1. “All this had me feeling very worried last night. Worried for the future of my children, worried for our world, worried that nothing will change and nothing will get done, despite the efforts of so many. I felt deflated. I felt frustrated. Everyday I live my life with the hope on reducing my footprint, the hope of inspiring others, the hope that we are moving in the right direction. ”

    There is no need to worry. The world is not going to end because you use too much energy.
    If the IPCC has its way, it will make paupers of us all and then you will need to worry about your babies for a fact!
    Be thankful that the democratic process has enabled your country to put aside this malicious fabrication that we know as “climate change”.
    Do not put your faith in these people, they have a hidden agenda and the benefit they seek does not include you, us or any of our families.

    I do not speak without some scientific authority and facts. Please visit my blog and I hope it will help your stress.

    Yes our planet does need nuture, but running after that life giving gas CO2 (without which life on this earth would not exist), will not provide nuture where it is needed.

    Conserve energy to according to the needs of your pocket, not what some faceless UN department commands you. Look into the facts and sort the truth from the fabrications by using your own mind- your mind is as good as anyone elses.
    Pollute as little as you can but in the name of preventing pollution of our planet, not in trying to save it from a fiery end.
    Yes there may well be a global temperature rise, but the earth warms and cools regularly, and such events have occurred during human history to a greater degree than present. This is natural and like King Canute, humans are still too small to influence the moods of our earth.

    Hope this makes you feel better.



    • Roger, we will have to agree to disagree. I have to listen what 97% of climate scientists are saying. I would love to believe that it is not true, it would greatly lessen the worry and fears I have. But I cannot do it, I cannot dismiss them. It is not just the UN and the IPCC. It is also independent scientists, all over the world.

      I know the Earth has heated up and cooled down naturally several times over its history. As a result, there has been 5 times that almost all life was completely wiped out on this planet, 5 mass extinctions. I am sure you know this. It could most definitely happen again. The last ice age was due to a temperature decline of only 5 degrees. Our planet is so sensitive to temperature changes.

      C02 is life giving, but like anything, too much isn’t a good thing. Look at Venus!

      We can sit and argue whether our emissions of C02 are causing the warming or not. I think they are, and you probably think they are not.

      As for an economic collapse – it does not have to happen if we transition properly to new technologies. Oil is not the end all be all for energy. There are cleaner, greener options. They are more expensive, yes. They are not as efficient. But they pave the way for a bright future.

      We must adapt.

  2. Sherry, maybe we should organize some sort of letter-writing event, or join one that already exists.

    Here’s an example: Amnesty International is a human rights organization of which people can become members at a local level. One of the key things that members of Amnesty do is have letter-writing events. They choose an issue, get together, discuss it, create an outline about what they want to communicate in their letters, choose recipients, and get to work. Surely there must be a similar group devoted to environmental issues.

    Anyway, I too feel really uneasy about our government. Besides the issue of the environment, I’m concerned about what will happen to the arts and arts funding. I know people don’t think the arts are as important as, say, health care, but to some of us, government arts funding is our livelihood — and what would our quality of life be like without the written word, journalism, visual art, music, film, etc? Harper has already cut $60.5 million from arts and cultural programs (the ones that affect me being cuts to the Book Publishing Industry Development Program, the Canadian Magazine Fund, the Canadian New Media Fund, Canadian Arts and Heritage Sustainability Programs, etc.).

    Anyway, now with the majority government, the Conservatives can treat arts and culture and issues of the environment however they want (and what they want is to minimize spending and ignore them, according to what history has shown us).

    Blah. I feel sad.

    • I hope they don’t cut the arts. I heard some comments on CBC radio yesterday about them possibly cutting the CBC! Nooo! The NDP in Quebec will freak out if they touch the arts. But really, they have the power. Letter writing could possibly help on this front too. Maybe if they think that your letter represents millions of other people that feel that way too, they will take pause and reconsider. That is the hope.

  3. Oh I know how you are feeling. Politics in WI have not exactly been friendly to conservation efforts lately. But my voice continues to be heard and I do what I can. That is all I can do, but it does help me to keep up hope and feel positive that I am still trying to do something.
    Love the idea of a letter writing campaign, hope you all can organize something!
    Good luck and keep fighting. It is important that we try our best to educate the “Rogers” of the world!

  4. With a provincial election coming up this fall in Ontario, many of my friends here in Toronto are worried about being governed by conservatives at all three levels of government (okay, so municipal politicians don’t belong to provincial/territorial and federal parties, but if Rob Ford could, he’d rule over Toronto as a Conservative Party member). Some of my friends talk about moving away, perhaps to Sweden or some other progressive country. But what’s more important is that people like us stick around to fight the good fight. Don’t lose hope, Sherry.

    • Ontario really has such a big role to play. Really, how Ontario votes usually dictates the government we have federally. So we need you to swing back over!! Alberta seems like a lost cause, we have always been Conservative, probably always will be, but there is a brand new exciting party called the Alberta Party here, and it is getting quite a lot of attention. Maybe there is hope? Interestingly, both Edmonton and Calgary have much more liberal mayors.

      We cannot lose on to hope. That I know for sure.

  5. Great summary of the election results. I too hope to see things change immediately for the sake of everyone – kids, us, everyone everywhere! The change process seems so slow in an otherwise fast paced world.

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