Nearly two years ago Bishop Desmond Tutu agreed to join 4RG as an Honourary Member of our Steering Committee. Just prior to this, Bishop Tutu and other South African leaders tried to sway the Canadian Government from withdrawing from the Kyoto Convention on climate change.
In asking for our continued support for Kyoto, these South Africans referred to the leadership that Canada had demonstrated in the fight against Apartheid. They appealed to Canada to show a similar commitment to moral principles in making the tough political decisions about climate change.
Regrettably, in the decades after the victory over Apartheid, Canada changed into a country guided by commercial considerations, by the need for continuous growth, and the development of Western Canada fossil fuels. We explained this metamorphosis when we wrote to Bishop Tutu thanking him and his colleagues for their message to Canada.
Their efforts were unsuccessful. Canada gave notice at Durban of its intention to withdraw from Kyoto.
It must have been discouraging when Canada so quickly rejected this appeal. Yet Bishop Tutu did not abandon the task of persuading Canadians. Perhaps as a consequence of this rejection, Bishop Tutu recognized that the battle against climate change had to find a cause that more directly impacted Canadians. That issue was the tar sands.
He took the side of Aboriginal peoples in their fight against the exploitation of the tar sands. He described the tar sands as “filth” and its exploitation as “greed”. So you can see that he has not moved from his conviction that the strongest case against the tar sands is based on moral principles.
4RG thanks our Honourary Member for this intervention, and his continued interest in Canada.