An Open Letter to the Canadian Opposition Parties

This week, Canadians and the rest of the world found out that the Conservative minority government is considering allowing the oil and gas industry in Canada to significantly increase emissions in the next decade, rather than cut emissions. Here is what CBC, which broke this story, reported on Monday:

For example, the proposal suggests that the oil and gas industry would have to cut 15 megatonnes of emissions, rather than 48 megatonnes under its Turning the Corner plan.

It also says projected growth in greenhouse gas emissions from the oilsands in northern Alberta will be 165 per cent by 2020 and proposes to cut that growth — not emissions — by 10 per cent.

This is a really BIG deal. This minority government, with strong ties to Alberta’s oil barons, is abusing its position to sacrifice Canada’s future for short-term financial gain. As I quoted yesterday, “real Conservatives would be working to conserve all that is good about Canada, not just rich people’s money”.  If Canadians understood what this policy means for us and our children, there would be rioting in the streets. There is NO WAY that we would stand for it.

It is the role of the opposition parties to oppose government policies and let Canadians know how these policies will impact us. Yet where are those opposition voices on this, the most crucial issue that Canadians will ever have to deal with? Our future, and the future of our children and grandchildren, hangs in the balance. Canadians are an intelligent, caring bunch. None of us would support a policy or a government that threatened our children’s health and happiness. Where are the voices that should be telling us this?

Micheal Ignatieff seems to be missing in action. Mr. Ignatieff, the Liberals are not going to win a landslide in Alberta anyway – your party is ideally situated to be voicing strong opposition to this dirty Alberta tar sands and the weak Conservative climate policy that they are responsible for.

Mr. Layton – where is a strong NDP voice on this? Your party should be standing for the average Canadian – the vast majority of us don’t work in the oil and gas sector. Why haven’t we heard a lot more about Bill C-377, The Climate Change Accountability Act? This was your private member’s bill, and according to your website:

Today, with the passage of NDP Leader Jack Layton’s private member’s bill, The Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-377), Canada’s House of Commons has become the first elected chamber in the world to adopt science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent, from 1990 levels, by 2050.

“This is a world first,” said Layton. “Our legislation sets tough but achievable targets that will ensure Canada does its share to avoid the dangerous two-degree increase in average global temperature that scientists warn us about.”

Yet this bill was passed a year and a half ago – the Harper government is ignoring it, and Canadians aren’t hearing anything about this. Please, educate us about this bill and hold the government’s feet to the fire. They are ignoring the majority-determined will of Parliament.

And Elizabeth May – why, oh why, did you run in an unwinnable riding in the last election? We badly need your intelligent and articulate voice in Parliament on this issue. It looks like you have a better chance in the next election – godspeed!

While the Afghan detainee issue that is dominating the news and parliament hill these days is important, and the government should be held accountable, how much more important is this issue? Opposition parties, wake up! Please LEAD in this issue – Canadians are desperate for a strong voice in this, whether or not they realize it.

Leave a Comment