Victory for the Climate

October 25, 2019

fangWho won the 2019 federal election in Canada? The climate won.

Three out of the four main parties contesting the 2019 election offered serious plans to control emissions of carbon. The Greens, the Liberals and the New Democrats all believe that we must price carbon in Canada. Canadians had their say, and about two in every three Canadians cast a vote for a party that wants to put a price on carbon emissions.

One hopes fervently that this election will put that issue to rest. The message is clear: you can only form a government in Canada if you have a serious plan to control climate change.

The Conservative Party of Canada did not offer voters a thorough or serious plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions. That is why the Conservatives under leader Andrew Scheer lost the Canadian federal election.

I understand the self-interest that led voters in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada’s two largest oil-producing provinces, to vote Conservative. It makes sense. Gas tax increases, to encourage Canadians to seek alternatives to fossil fuels, hurt Saskatchewan and Alberta. But let’s also please remember that all Canadians pay the carbon tax. In Ontario our fuel prices have gone up because of the carbon tax. I voted for the tax because I believe we have to do something.

Canadians, per capita, are among the largest carbon emitters on the planet. Increases in carbon emissions worldwide are causing massive environmental problems such as flooding and desertification. We must change our behaviour.

Last year I spent a few days in the archives of Trinity College in the University of Toronto, researching the papers that Kenneth Hare, a noted British-born geologist and an early climate scientist, donated to the college where he had been provost.

ThunbergForty years ago, Hare blew the whistle on global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels. He suggested that the world take action. We are only now just beginning to listen to Hare’s prophetic and thoughtful words.

As Canadians we can hardly take a stand and try to combat global warming worldwide if we are not willing to evolve at home to greater use of renewable energy.

I am proud of Canadians. I did not quite get my way – I voted NDP and a Liberal won in my riding. That said, Parliament has a clear mandate to control fossil fuel emissions. This transformation will hurt some parts of Canada more that others. People who get hurt by these changes need to be compensated. But if we do nothing about global warming, as Sheer has essentially proposed, then we all lose.