Question for Justin Trudeau

M. Trudeau,

You are apparently on tour to find out what Canadians care about. Well, I care about the same things I cared about when I voted for the Liberal candidate in the last election. I voted for her because your party promised Real Change, especially on 3 things that matter a lot to me. You promised to reform the voting system to eliminate the First Past the Post system. You promised to heal relations with our first nations people. And you promised to address Climate Change meaningfully. You’ve paid lip service to all three, and said lots of nice words, but you have failed to address them with serious significant action. All you’ve really done is be a bit better than the last gang, but that’s hardly something to be proud of. I wrote you a nice letter in October saying nearly the same thing, but did not hear back from you or any of the three responsible ministers, so I actually wonder whether you really are interested in hearing my opinion. Nevertheless, I will press on and tell you again.

While my passion is climate change, as Maryam well knows, I acknowledge that Electoral reform is actually more important in order to achieve lasting policy change on the climate front. Without Proportional Representation any change is subject to the whims of the government of the day as we are about to find out in the USA; with Proportional Representation, more stable long term policies will be implemented. This has proven to be the case wherever the voting system includes a form of Proportional Representation. But, I don’t want to talk about Electoral Reform today – there are lots of people who will. I want to talk about my passion, climate change.

First, some thanks for actions you have taken. You’ve at least acknowledged that the culprit is burning fossil fuels. Your national carbon price is nice. Too bad we didn’t get it when Stephane Dion proposed it eight years ago. Your words and attitude at Paris were great, and indeed 1.5C is a worthy target. I was proud to be a Canadian the day that was announced. But Canada’s internal emissions targets, inherited from the past government and not updated are inadequate and do not contribute our fair share towards the 2C we promised in Paris, and they don’t come close to the 1.5C target.  They do not reflect the urgency, the emergency, the crisis, that the world is facing from climate change. And we are not on track even to meet them.

But my main disappointment is in your government’s apparent lack of recognition that continuing expansion of tar sands is incompatible with the international understanding that to meet the 2C target, 80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. Since Canada’s tar sands are among the most expensive in terms of the energy required to extract them, they should be among the first to be curtailed. Building and approving pipelines that carry our poison to the world is not only immoral, it is also a bad investment since the product that they are designed to carry is not a financially viable and will become even less viable as the world implements a world carbon price and continues to wean itself from it in favour of renewables. Continuing to subsidize the fossil fuel industry whose product is poisoning the world is immoral and bad business.

Let me present an analogy. Your government has just agreed to stop mining and exporting asbestos, another killer that brought shame and money to Canada. But we’ve only done this 50 years after it was known to have deadly health impacts and only after 156 other countries have classified it as hazardous. Well, it’s just over 50 years since President Johnson was briefed to the fact that burning fossil fuels would have deadly impacts, and now 175 countries have signed on to the Paris agreement to reduce emissions drastically. Maybe you can ban fossil fuel exports in the same way.

So, I hope it’s obvious to you what my interest is. I want to know when your government is going to live up to the promises in your party’s platform as they relate to climate change. When will you eliminate subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. On that one, why not at least come clean and acknowledge the magnitude of the subsidy – the IMF has the numbers. And then, why not report on your progress towards zero subsidies annually.

You know what, it’s not enough for you to live up to your promises; the situation is so stark, so urgent, so desperate that you need to exceed your promises. You need to  lead our country to the Real Change that is needed to leave a habitable world for our grandchildren.

Thank you.

This article is a copy of one initially published here and was intended to be a question I asked him during his cross Canada tour.

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