Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Climate Change is Emerging as an Issue in the Canadian Federal Election of 2015

In previous Canadian federal elections climate change has not been much of an issue. However, there appears to be a shift in the mood of Canadians and we may very well see concerns about climate change making an appearance as an election issue at the ballot box in October.

Some of this interest is being driven by Canadians who are experiencing the effects of climate change first hand. This includes floods in Calgary and Toronto, dry summers on the West Coast, low snow packs in the mountains, wildfires in the western provinces, and melting northern ice sheets.

The news offers daily reminders of the climate crisis around the world and it is becoming increasingly evident that Canada is already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Arctic. The combination of personal experience and scientific evidence appears to be getting through to Canadians. 

We are seeing a growing number of actions all across the county that indicate that Canadians may be waking up to the dangers of climate change. Here is a quick summary of some of the climate events that have occurred in the last few months.

On July 4th 2015 people in communities all across Canada came out against environmentally destructive industries and then on July 5th, thousands converged in Toronto for a march designed to show the environmental resolve of Canadians. In a spectacular demonstration of unity and solidarity, over 10,000 people marched together in Toronto for Jobs, Justice and the Climate. This mobilization brought together a truly diverse coalition that included indigenous communities, public and private sector unions, students, social justice organizations and grassroots groups.

On September 10th, Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and many others came together to decry the Conservative's track record on the environment and demand better government.

Climate activists have also organized a number of actions along the leaders campaign trail. Some of these events demanded that federal leaders put forth science based plans to tackle climate change and manage the tar sands.

In the middle of September, activists greeted prime minister Stephen Harper as he campaigned in British Columbia. On September 10, people asked the NDP and Liberal party about their commitments and plans to transition Canada to 100 percent renewable energy.

On September 17th, the day of the Globe and Mail debate, Calgary Climate Action Network activists delivered a 20-feet tall message to all three federal leaders gathered in the city for the debate. The message read, "if you want to avoid the carbon bubble and build a new economy that works for people and the planet, you need to keep fossil fuels in the ground."

A digital action also took place on the day of the Globe and Mail debate as thousands of people sent Tweets that said you can’t talk about the economy without grappling with the scientific reality of climate change.

A series of actions are planned for the September 24th debate in Montreal. Divest McGill and other groups will greet party leaders and remind them that the science of climate change is not up for debate. On Thursday September 24th at 5:30 PM they are organizing a climate bloc at a giant rally that will take place outside of Radio-Canada at Place Emilie-Gamelin, Montreal

There are also actions planned for the September 28 debate in Toronto.

As explained by the Climate Action Network, "we have reached a turning point that will lead us closer to climate justice."

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