Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/5/2016 (335 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna hosted a community conversation about climate change in Winnipeg Wednesday, one of hundreds of such consultations taking place across Canada.
It was a unique opportunity for community members to speak on Canada’s national climate strategy ahead of its release in the fall, and hundreds of people, with dozens of others sitting on the floor in the hallway outside, packed the conference room in the Fort Garry Hotel to have their say.
As participants of all ages and backgrounds stood up to speak, a few recurring themes dominated the discussions. The vast majority of participants asked for a national strategy that had at its core three principles: that it respects the science of climate change and keeps Canada’s commitment to stay within a 11/2 C level of global warming; that the plan put in motion a fast transition toward a 100 per cent renewable-energy economy; and that the transition be justice-based and reflect the disproportionate impact our current system has on indigenous communities and workers.
One participant ceded his speaking time to simply ask the room to stand up if they were against approving TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline, and not one person in the room stayed seated.
Beyond the individual ideas shared on how to shape a climate strategy, this town hall was a demonstration of the community’s consensus and deep understanding of the intersectional and complex nature of this problem, as well as the desire to offer solutions. When the Liberal government announced in March it would be seeking input from communities to incorporate into the strategy, no one expected the droves of people that have been coming out for town halls across the country, solutions and suggestions in hand.
And while it is important to applaud McKenna’s presence and the Liberal government’s willingness to hold climate consultations as a happy change from the previous Harper government, the Liberal doublespeak on real climate action and continuing the expansion of the oilsands was not lost on participants. This is the first time in a long time government representatives have made any effort to consult communities about federal policy decisions and the first of many instances of community members demanding responses to the contradictory commitments this government has made on climate.
What was demonstrated Wednesday was citizens are able and willing to organize themselves and to rally behind a people’s climate plan — one that works for communities, for indigenous peoples and for people across the world already feeling the impacts of climate change. While I hope the Liberals took away some of the important ideas and solutions brought forth by community members, I hope they have also learned a lesson about our community’s tenacity — of its ability to organize, to consult one another and to speak out and be heard in order to hold this government accountable to bold climate action.
Clayton Thomas-Muller is a member of Mathias Colomb Cree Nation and campaigner for the People’s Climate Plan.