Viewpoint: Wake up soon for the children’s sake

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By TOM MITCHELL

Last Friday I found myself with many Salt Spring Islanders and others, standing with Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, and Kennedy Stewart, NDP MP for Burnaby South, at one of the gates of the Kinder Morgan tank farm in Burnaby.

We were waiting in the hail and cold to be arrested for breaking the five-metre injunction put in place by KM. We, along with people from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and points east, are engaging to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the subsequent expansion of the tar sands.

 Every day at the site begins with the guidance and leadership of elders and youth of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, “people of the inlet.” The high standard of respect, compassion, organizational skills plus humour they embodied was remarkable.  

It was an emotional day of solidarity, with arrestees at the time of arrest being lifted up and thanked by surrounding supporters and the next wave of people waiting to take their place.

On coming home I find myself with conflicting emotions. I feel hope, encouraged by the huge response of fellow islanders and other British Columbians who care. I am also inspired by the true leadership and integrity of our Member of Parliament Elizabeth May and the presence of her fellow parliamentarian Kennedy Stewart.

On the other hand, I feel frustration, sadness and anger that for the most part the majority of our elected leaders at this time seem to be captured by the fossil fuel Industry and insist on ignoring the dire warnings of international panels of climate scientist David Suzuki, 350.org, Sierra Club, Lead Now, Dogwood Initiative and many others.

We are indisputably in a climate crisis with many signs becoming more apparent, such as uncontrollable forest fires and shellfish farms unable to grow oysters locally from seed due to acidification of the oceans. And yet, we Canadians push ahead with more plans to raise the temperature our planet, from pipelines and tar sands to Site C and fracked LNG in B.C.

There are extremely competitive renewable alternatives to burning dinosaurs and they are coming online rapidly in many countries. Germany is an example. Why not Canada? Alberta has twice the solar exposure of Germany and is also eminently suitable for wind turbines, the latest of which at 12 megawatts can provide power to 5,000 homes.

I hope we wake up soon for the sake of the children, but under our divisive first-past-the-post partisan voting system that seems very unlikely. Our country desperately needs a system that will bring us all together to make the hard decisions needed to stay within the one and a half degree target required to meet the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We in B.C. can play our part to secure our children’s future by adopting some form of proportional representation in this fall’s referendum in B.C.

The writer is a longtime Salt Spring resident and activist.  

 

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