WEEK 5: TIME TO GET ANSWERS ON CLIMATE ACTION
With the start of school, the actions of last week signalled there is more to come until Canadians head to the polls next month. Some media outlets pointed out the lack of conversation about climate change in Canada’s election. Yet, even as leaders try to dodge the issue, people across the country are forcing them to give answers. Take a look at the 10 actions that have made climate impossible to ignore on the campaign trail in Canada.
September kicked off with a powerful action in Laval, Quebec, where Trudeau faced questions about his climate and energy policy again, only four days after two climate activists interrupted him on stage during a Montreal rally last week.
The Liberal leader had then said he would head to the COP21 conference with the objective to keep climate change under the threshold of 2C but giving no concrete plans to get there. So on September 1st, two women and a local resident showed up at his event and stood up to interrupt his speech with banners that said “let’s move past the tar sands” and “the future is not in pipelines.” They asked him about his climate targets, and attempted to deliver the scientific report “Acting on Climate Change” from Sustainable Dialogues where Canadian academics offer a roadmap for Canada to transition to renewable energy.
Proving that these actions work, Trudeau’s big announcement the next morning was about the Liberal Party committing to green infrastructure and to taking climate impacts into account for government contracting. Sure enough, the pressure is being felt, yet the response still falls short of the bold leadership and action we need.
Moving a bit more west in North Bay, Ontario, on September 2nd, local residents held quite a welcoming committee for Stephen Harper on his campaign stop. A local activist attended the event and stood next to the Prime Minister, sporting an inconvenient t-shirt that said “Water not Harper” to highlight concerns around the massive Energy East pipeline which goes through the community. Yan Roberts was quickly escorted out, but the video went viral and was viewed over 11,000 times.
And while Stephen Harper was talking about resource development and the mining sector inside, two dozen concerned citizens outside the event highlighted his abysmal track record in environmental and climate policy, First nations rights and public services cuts.
The Prime Minister was followed with questions as he headed to British-Columbia at the end of the week where he was greeted in Surrey by local residents denouncing his links to Big Oil.
But the outcry Stephen Harper could not escape was on Canada’s treatment of refugees in the wake of the tragic photo of Alan Kurdi that made world headlines, shining a light on the plight of those fleeing Syria and on Canada’s unfair immigration policies. At Harper’s event in Surrey, BC, local activist Sean Devlin stood behind the Prime Minister with a t-shirt that simply said “Aylan should be here” and he was arrested for doing so.
On Friday Harper declared point-blank that climate change was not a priority, completely missing the point, of course, that seeking to achieve climate justice is indivisible from migrant justice. And that our role in causing displacement of populations and our failure to welcome refugees is only proof that we have a long way to go before we can actually tackle the crisis of climate change — whose effects are not only seen in pipeline spills but also in sparking conflict and creating climate refugees.
Closing the week, the NDP also announced pledges to emission reduction targets and Mulcair reiterated on Friday that the Energy East tar sands pipeline would not go forward before new process is in place.
That’s why the actions that people are taking along the campaign trail all over Canada are key to moving forward the conversation about climate in this election.
Click here to get involved in a wave of mobilization by the climate movement this fall, and download the bird-dogging toolkit to organize similar actions calling out and questioning party leaders across party lines during the elections campaign!