During the 2015 federal election campaign, I was invited by the Georgia Straight newspaper newspaper to write an op-ed. This was the result:
Note: this was written and published on September 2nd, 2015 – one day before the photo of Alan Kurdi’s 3 year-old washed up body appeared in the news. At the time I was unaware the Syrian refugee crisis would play a big role in the election.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of this election so far has been the disconnect between what we’re seeing on the ground and the political discussion in Canada.
We’ve heard about Duffy, we’ve heard about housing, we’ve heard lots about the economy, and we’ve even heard mention of pipelines.
One would think the world was essentially the same as before, that somehow 97% of climate scientists were wrong, that the forests weren’t burning, the oceans weren’t acidifying, that droughts across BC, Alberta, Washington and California were an act of God and not decades of poor climate policy. Or that the hundreds of thousands of African and Western Asian refugees risking their lives to get to Europe were but a summer passing and not the beginning of a multidecade global trend which will eventually involve us too .
Which isn’t to say that the economy isn’t a very big deal, that healthcare, education and infrastructure aren’t essential to the proper functioning of our society. But as priorities they simply don’t stack up against the threats currently facing global civilisation. One can mess up the economy, as the NDP did in BC in the 90’s, and eventually recover. If the oceans die and the salmon go extinct (bringing down whole ecosystems and billion dollar industries with them), not even Gordon Campbell could clean up the mess.
As a former conservative, the Green Party wasn’t an intuitive choice for me. That is, until I started looking for a Party that took the 21st century seriously.
Whether we wait for climate disaster to happen or act early to prevent it, we’re going to have to phase out the fossil fuel industry and make significant changes to our lifestyles. The responsible thing to do is to act now.
That means a moratorium on new oil, gas or coal developments. That means major investment in renewable energy, public transit, and efficient buildings. Most of all, it means preparing our infrastructure, public services and armed forces for the great challenges ahead: food and water insecurity, rising sea levels, failing ecosystems, extreme weather events, and global instability.
We can turn this crisis into Canada’s finest hour and play a leading role on the world stage. But that means thinking and voting like it’s the 21st century.