My, my, it’s been a busy week. There are three whopping announcements out of Ottawa to leave us with something to think about over the summer. Are we, the people, being “primed” (or should I say “duped”) with tactical messaging for the upcoming fall federal election?
First off, on Monday, June 17, our federal government declared a climate emergency in Canada. For Canadians who think climate change is cause for concern, this is excellent news. You’d think a declaration like this would mean our nation is taking climate change, and our role to prevent it from getting any worse, seriously. Of course, responding seriously to our national climate emergency would require Canada to make deep cuts to its greenhouse gas emissions. It’s the very kind of declaration that gives us hope for the future.
But wait! There’s an unexpected twist! Within a mere 24 hours, our federal government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. You’d think that the climate emergency declaration of the previous day would have trumped a pipeline expansion. But, no. Apparently not. This makes absolutely no sense to me, nor to a whole bunch of other people. Why? Because climate leaders don’t build pipelines.
Greta Tunberg, leader of the charge when it comes to the global climate justice student movement, minces no words in her tweet, “One second they declare a #ClimateEmergency and the next second they say yes to a pipeline. This is shameful....”
Now that we’ve put those two conflicting announcements into perspective, we’ve got a third one to consider. On June 19, the federal Conservative party, sitting in opposition to the ruling Liberals, announced its climate change plan.
This industry-friendly plan uses “technology, not taxes” to lower emissions to fight climate change. Called “A Real Plan to Protect the Environment,” it is supposed to start with exporting Canada’s “environmental excellence” (in other words, oil and gas products, including bitumen from oil sands) to countries like China, so Canada can help them get off dirty coal. But it all sounds more like PR spin and greenwashing to me. What about you?
With what’s been going on these past few days, it’s no wonder people are cynical of politicians. But we can take comfort in the knowledge that confusing and conflicting announcements like these are no different from what world leaders have been doing throughout history. It’s all explained in the book Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up by journalist and humour writer Tom Phillips. I highly recommend it as summer reading in preparation for the fall election.
Sarah Knight, New York Times book reviewer, says: “Tom Phillips has proven beyond a doubt that humans are goddamn lucky to be here and are doing nearly nothing to remain relevant and viable as a species—except, that is, for writing witty, entertaining, and slightly distressing-but-ultimately-endearing books about same. And if you care to avoid orbiting the Earth in a space-garbage prison of your fellow humans’ design, you should probably read it.”
There is still time for more announcements to come out of Ottawa, but please, let them make sense in the larger scheme of things. Coming up with strategic, sensible, and long-term climate and economic plans instead of making dramatic announcements to get our votes in the fall—now that’s in our best interest.
For more in your best interest, follow Sheelagh @sheesays or visit www.ideagarden.net.