In the local news today, our neighbours to the south in Grand Forks, North Dakota are making headlines again as they prepare for the crest of the Red River in their community, the second year in a row that they have been forced to sandbag and build dikes in preparation for the spring flood. In Winnipeg, the residents are much more relaxed, confident in the ability of “Duff’s Ditch”, the Winnipeg floodway, to protect them from the Red’s rising waters. The Red River Floodway is a permanent 300-metre-wide ditch built to re-route water from the Red River south of Winnipeg, carry it along the east side of the city and then dump it back into the Red just north of city limits.
Duff Roblin, Progressive Conservative Premier of Manitoba from 1958 to 1967, put his reputation on the line when he championed this floodway. It was originally dubbed “Duff’s Folly” by opponents, who denounced it as a monumental, potentially ruinous, waste of money (sound familiar?). The floodway project was huge in scope – worldwide, only the Panama Canal was larger in terms of earth-moving projects. The $63-million price tag was also huge. But Duff Roblin persisted, and the floodway was completed, on budget, by 1968. It has since protected the city 20 times, most notably during the so-called “Flood of the Century” in 1997 that turned southern part of the province into a 2,000 square kilometre lake and swamped Grand Forks. Duff Roblin is now recognized as a visionary, vindicated by history, as this excerpt from an interview with professor of political science, and long-time Winnipeger, Paul Thomas demonstrates:
For some, Roblin’s determination is a lost art in a world where political policy is often shaped by opinion polls.
“He wouldn’t make policy just on the basis of some philosophical orientation or the pressures of public opinion,” Thomas said. “He was far more interested in the evidence … and what was feasible.”
Where is the “Duff Roblin” of climate change in Canadian politics today? It seems that many of our politicians are too fond of public opinion polls or tied to their own philosophical orientation to look clearly at what the science – and economics – tell us is achievable. Those that do listen will find themselves being hailed by future generations as visionaries, and their achievements will be celebrated long after they themselves are no longer in office.
MP Bruce Hyer may be one of those politicians following in Roblin’s footsteps. The NDP Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay-Superior North introduced Bill C311, the Climate Accountability Act, to the House Commons. It has passed two votes, supported by the Bloc Quebecois and a handful of Liberal MPs. It is currently making its way through the house for the third and final vote. For it to become law, it needs to be supported by the Liberals as well as the Bloc and NDP. “Starving for Change” states:
Canada has an opportunity to take a historic leadership role in solving climate change. Bill C-311 is also known as the Climate Change Accountability Act. There is a huge difference between Stephen Harper’s made in USA, weak, greenhouse gas targets and the ambitious targets in Bill C-311. If we want to avoid a more than two degree increase in temperature, a climate change tipping point, then our M.P.s must vote for this historic Bill. That’s why I, Dante Ryel, have been participating in a water-only fast from March 3rd, the Day parliament resumed, until I can be assured that Bill C-311 will become law.
The NDP introduced Bill C-311 and the Bloc Quebecois will support it. We must pressure the leaders of the Liberal and Conservative parties to vote yes on Bill C-311. In fact, all we need is Liberal support! However, the Liberals have made no commitment and many people are scared that some in the party will vote no. We need to pressure them. Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have consistently voted against Bill C-311, and have prevented any meaningful progress on climate change, but we should still ask them for their support. You never know. The duration of my fast will be determined by the Liberals and/or the Conservatives because neither party has made a commitment to the bill.
We are so close to making history but we must make sure our politicians do the right thing!
Click here to send off an email to each federal party:
In about a minute you could help change the world, all with the click of a mouse! Or phone your Member of Parliament. If you like, you could record yourself doing it, and post the video on YouTube.
Consider sending Bruce Hyer an email of support at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone him at 807-345-1818. A tangible way to support the Climate Accountability Act – and Mr. Hyer – is to make a financial donation to Mr. Hyer. Go to this link for more information on how to do that – and remember, because of tax deductions, a $100 donation actually ends up costing you only $25. And if you aren’t comfortable supporting Mr. Hyer, but are opposed to Mr. Harper’s Climate-Change-Denying Conservatives, consider donating to either the Liberals or Greens as a tangible way of showing your displeasure.
Whatever you do, don’t delay. Get the message out now that you support the Canadian Climate Accountability Act – it is set to be voted on in the House of Commons in April.
Here is Dante Ryel, who has been fasting for 2 weeks to raise the awareness of Bill C311, explaining the bill, and its importance:
Also, if you are interested in the connection between the recent increase in the number of Red River floods and climate change, go to Climate Progress’s post, Why the “never seen before” Fargo flooding is just what you’d expect from climate change.