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Stop Everything #7: Canadians feel embarassed by our lack of climate action

rebecca mcneil

Embarrassed Businessman

To me, our Canadian identity has always seemed deeply rooted in our belief that as a country we do the “right thing.” We assumed for years that we were the moral compass of the globe and could do no wrong. But from where I’m standing, that reputation is being dragged through the mud and plenty of us are red-faced in embarassment.

A recent major survey indicates that three quarters of Canadians are embarrassed about our country’s lack of a leadership on climate change. And don’t think the results were specific to just one province. In Alberta, heart of the controversial Tar Sands, 65% of those surveyed agreed we should be doing more, with the highest level of those embarrassed by our government’s inaction at 86% in Quebec.

Imagine what the results would be if that translated to the polls? It seems that our government might have assumed that just because Stephane Dion was defeated as Liberal Party Leader last year, thanks largely to his controversial Greenshift proposal, that Canadians don’t give a hoot about climate change.

But the evidence seems to be stacking up that people are tired of Canada’s increasingly ridiculous climate legacy, and are telling the government exactly that. Last week, I began encouraging everyone to send a postcard from the government’s own website telling Stephen Harper about climate change, and was very happy to read that I wasn’t the only person asking a government official to stand up and fulfill their obligations.

High School students in Mississauga organized an event to call the Ontario government and ask them to take action on climate change. According to the students, they were asked by the Prime Minister’s Office to stop calling in as they were blocking up the switch board.

Going for the heart of the beast in Calgary, seven people were recently arrested after occupying Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice’s office, demanding action on climate change. Mr. Prentice even held a brief phone conference from Ottawa with the occupants, but ultimately an agreement couldn’t be reached.

Probably because Mr. Prentice insists we don’t need to make any real impact on climate change for about 40 years, even though the International Panel on Climate Change (a group of scientific leaders from across the world, generally thought to be the authority on climate change) outlines it is essential to take action immediately in order to halt and reverse the already very real damage we’ve caused.

This is the man who is supposed to protect our resources for now and future generations and be an authority on best environmental practices. Sure, I get it, what does he care? Both Mr. Prentice and Mr. Harper will be out of office in 40 years time. So I suppose it might be tempting to sit on one’s hands when it won’t have any direct impact on you either way. But for a party eager to win a majority government in the next election, you would think they would give the people what they want in the meantime, because while they might not be around to care, you bet those of us who will are going to fight damn hard for our future.

So keep pushing those buttons, because people are taking notice. The message is getting through to the public, and that squeaky wheel is slowly catching the attention of our government. Hopefully it won’t be long before they begrudgingly accept responsibility for their part in reducing the international climate burden—and then it can be their faces that are red.

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