BY JAN SLAKOV
Why are people saying we don’t have years, just months, to make the shift towards a net zero carbon future? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made it clear that globally we need to halve emissions by 2030 to have any hope of preventing heating from surpassing 1.5°C. Obviously, to reach such a goal in 10 years requires making changes, ideally yesterday, so now.
Why did Elizabeth May get into politics? Convinced that “without fully functioning democracies, we could not escape the worst outcomes of global warming,” she felt called to work for change from within.
What to make of Elizabeth’s statement that, in a minority situation, she would only support a government that was committed to meet or exceed science-based requirements? This can sound extreme. But when we consider the drastic changes Canada and other nations made to fight fascism during WWII, when we consider what the future holds if humanity fails to make the dramatic changes that are still possible, well, “extreme” is the new normal, eh?
Left or right? In today’s context, these terms are not generally helpful. Which party is truly more “business-friendly,” a Conservative party that works with industry lobbyists to weaken environmental protections, or the Greens, whose leader has a bill requiring any new legislation to be vetted to ensure it supports a healthy small business sector?
Which party is more fiscally responsible: The Greens, who have an ambitious, fully costed platform aiming to balance the budget by 2024 and to make a fair transition to a low-carbon economy, with funding for respecting Indigenous rights, pharmacare, free tuition, conservation measures, or parties which, in government, spend money challenging legal rulings requiring them to compensate victims of discrimination, which subsidize oil and gas at the rate of over $1,000 per person per year?
Which parties care more about freedom and democracy? Ones that tell their MPs how to vote or that have a history of cheating in elections, or one whose leader wrote a book on the “crisis in Canadian democracy,” showing how everything from electoral reform to reforms in media, policing and parliamentary respect are needed to strengthen democracy?
In the struggle for a livable future, we are up against inertia. One form of inertia leads people to assume that Conservatives are better fiscal stewards. How many people know that the two prime ministers who contributed the most to Canada’s 2017-2018 debt were Mulroney and Harper, or that if the Conservatives had had their way with bank deregulation, Canada would have had a much rougher ride through the 2008 recession?
The world has more than doubled the amount of heat trapping gases in the atmosphere since politicians and oil companies knew about the physics of global heating. It takes decades to feel the full effect of that pollution. Elizabeth May is not the only Green leader who nearly gave up after stinging political defeat. Thankfully, she, Peter Bevan-Baker and others are in it for the long haul.
What about us? It’s time to stop voting for the same old, same old. We need MPs who are not “in it for you” but, as Elizabeth put it, in it “for justice, for peace and for a planet that can survive with a civilization that thrives.”