Canada at Bali: Oh, the Shame

I am a Canadian, and I am ashamed that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is from Canada.

How far has democracy fallen, when we have a majority of the population that favors action on averting the climate crisis, and a majority of our politicians doing nothing?

Canada currently has a minority government, ‘led’ by the Conservatives, who are currently in Bali sabotaging the Kyoto talks. Yet, in Parliament, the other parties form a majority, and they seem unable to stop anything the Conservatives want to do…which makes me wonder if any of them really want to. Were I able to post it, there is a graph showing a steady rise in Canada’s CO2 emissions from 1991 until now – regardless of the party in power. Hmm. Perhaps this explains the steady rise of Canada’s Green Party in the polls. (Disclaimer: After ‘waking up’ to the climate crisis, I decided to get politically involved, as we must get governments to help make ‘going green’ easier. And after looking at the other parties, I really didn’t see any choice but to join, and then run for, the Green Party.)

Australia recently dumped their PM and have embraced Kyoto, and I salute the Australians. Canada acts somewhat as a conscience for the United States, because we are very similar, very close, yet go our own way on some things. As much as many Americans resist single-payer health care, for example, they cannot deny that it costs less while covering everyone – because we’re doing it in Canada. The need has never been greater for Canadians to join the rest of the world community in averting the climate crisis, and thus to shame the Americans into facing the truth.

Can Canada cut emissions drastically? Of course. Change building codes (as France did) so that all new houses must generate more energy than they consume. Replace domestic air travel – passenger and freight – with high-speed electric trains (as exist in almost every developed country except Canada). Stop subsidizing Big Oil and give the money instead to alternative energy (like the ‘cheaper-than-coal’ solar cells recently developed by Nanosolar). Stop subsidizing Big Auto, which has laid off 100,000 workers while sucking up one billion dollars in subsides and making the least efficient vehicles on the planet. Instead give the money to retraining autoworkers to make the new electric trains, or the new solar cells, or the new Canadian electric cars (Zenn: made in Canada but banned here – legal in the U.S. and other countries – until public outcry exposed the hypocrisy).

There are solutions – lots of them. The problems is that governments are committed to certain vested interests, none of which are you, me, or our children. To use an old cliche, we must make government part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, and then, perhaps, we can once again be proud of what our leaders are doing in our name.

Brian Gordon is a Canadian Green Party member and candidate trained by Al Gore to present An Inconvenient Truth.

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