CANADIAN 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 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.
The public consultation was held in a school gymnasium on Sunday afternoon in a quieter part of the city (Montreal also happened to have hosted the Grand Prix Formula One Racing event on Sunday, and the city’s downtown core was bustling), with the hopes tempting a maximum number of citizens to the event. It was presided over by local MP David Lametti, federal representative of the borough as well as being Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade. There were ultimately a near hundred people in attendance, and the message was clear. Keep fossil fuels in the ground, and take more active measures to grow a green and sustainable economy.
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, particularly due to its environmental laws (See Huffington Post, 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.
Still, it was a hopeful proceeding. As 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 (be sure to follow Sustainably Motivated)! 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 received as their mandate 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.
If you wish to participate in the next 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.