Canadians Talk Climate Change
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Public Consultation on Combating Climate Change
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending a public consultation on combating climate change. It was the first such hearing offered here in Montreal by the incoming (Liberal) federal government. This type of event was definitely not a priority for the previous Canadian government, nor was combating climate change.
It is evident however that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his new cabinet have sincerely taken steps towards increased transparency and inclusion. Having said that, those of us strongly concerned with climate change really want our governments to be doing more, and therefore public consultations are indeed a vital part of the process.
Lots Going Down in MTL
The public consultation was held at a school gymnasium in Lasalle, a quieter borough of the city. I write quieter, because that very same Sunday, Montreal also hosted the Grand Prix Formula One, and the city’s downtown core was absolutely packed!
As a result, I’m not certain that this was the best weekend to plan a public consultation (the Formula One is a once a year mega-event). Perhaps it was in consideration for the multitude of tourists in town that weekend, that the Canadian government opted for selecting Lasalle as the location for Montreal’s first public consultation on climate change consultation.
It was presided over by Canadian MP David Lametti, federal representative of the local borough and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade. There were approximately one hundred of us in attendance, and the message was clear. Keep fossil fuels in the ground (Why They Need to Be Kept in the Ground), and take more active measures to grow a green and sustainable economy.
Time to End the Canadian Oil Era
Given that Mr. Lametti is also working with the Minister of International Trade, the topic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) also came up with considerable frequency. The concern of many Canadians, as was expressed at the consultation, is that if Canada commits to this agreement, Canadians will be essentially signing away their sovereignty, particularly with regards to climate change regulation.
This was in fact a significantly negative outcome of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as Canada has been taken to court more than any other country in the accord. This has been predominantly due to our environmental protection laws (see Most-Sued Country).
The MP’s response to this was measured and diplomatic. The government is currently assessing the pros and cons and is still actively deliberating its decision and as such Mr. Lametti could make no comment as to the government’s present leanings.
Stepping Up to the Mic
Still, it was a hopeful proceeding. As engaged citizens took turns at the microphone they both vented frustrations, but also made active contributions to the notions of combating climate change. There are solutions! I’m a happy to post my discoveries here, as well as on our Facebook Page (we share frequent updates).
The MP took notes and encouraged all citizens to continue voicing their opinions, and visit the government website to write in and provide their input. While no concrete decisions were made at the hearing, it did fulfill its intended purpose and as such could claim success.
This was democracy at work! As yet another encouraging sign that the Canadian government is committed to progress, Mr. Lametti did share with us that he, as well as every sitting member of the the Liberal government, had already received their climate related mandate from the new government.
These came in the form of two well-defined priorities, namely: (1) the need to address and improve relations with the Aboriginal nations of Canada and (2) to actively addressing and combating climate change.
Have Your Say
If you wish to participate in the next Canadian public consultation, or simply offer your input online please visit the government website, click here. The problems facing the planet today are no doubt very grave and prevalent, all the more reason to contribute!
We can’t as concerned citizens simply expect significant changes without active participation, so please get out there and do what you can in your respective communities, and don’t be shy to communicate directly with your government reps.