It’s been a 30+ hours of traveling, and my family and I are now together in Paris to start a three week vacation (and yes, I know, air travel has a HUGE carbon footprint. Fill free to weigh in with your opinions on the fact that a climate activist like me has made the decision to fly. Put it out there, I can take it!).
This morning at 8:00 a.m. Paris time our Air Canada captain made the announcement that Canada now had a Conservative majority government. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach, and couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. What does this mean for my daughters’ future? The stability and prosperity of the next generation of Canadians is now more imperiled than ever, for Stephen Harper is a man who believes that the “economy trumps everything”. Harper, it seems, resides on a planet where the economy is completely unrelated to clean air, clean water, and a stable ecosystem and climate. Stephen Harper doesn’t live on the same planet as the rest of us. We are going to be sent further down a path of environmental “overshoot” if we continue to use up and contaminate more of the planet’s resources than we can possibly replace. Just like the financial meltdown of 2009, caused by Wall Street’s overshoot of the global financial markets, an environmental meltdown is coming that will be caused by the global overshoot of our environmental resources.
When I was finally able to get connected (the wifi in our hotel is very spotty, and fades in and out), I reached out to my Facebook community of climate activists and earth warriors, as I often do these days when I need encouragement. I found solace and inspiration in these words from Mike Hudema, a Greenpeace activist who focuses particularly on the issue of the Alberta tar sands. Thank you, Mike. I am still deeply disturbed by the fact that a man who received less than 40% of the popular vote, and whose vision of Canada is to put taxpayer’s money into building bigger prisons and fighter jets, not building a better society for Canadians, is now the Prime Minister of our country for the next four years. However, I will be able to sleep better tonight (despite my jet lag and my sorrow) because of Mike’s message of hope and solidarity:
“The play is the same: artists, choose your weapons. Activists, find your handholds. Warriors of love – find each other. This changes nothing. This was already happening. This is the battle we were already fighting.” ~Mike Smith
“Our dreams do not fit on your ballots.”
Well if you’re like me you’re reeling a little from yesterday’s election results. While we should celebrate a historic number of women MP’s elected, the election of the first ever Green MP, and the surge of the NDP the reality of a Conservative majority is more than troubling. Many of my friends have already called or texted in tears thinking about what a Harper government will do to the fight for women’s rights, Indigenous sovereignty, environmental justice, arts, poverty…the list goes on and on.
While yesterday’s voting results are very troubling we need to remember that our fight was never about or to be realized by the election of any political party. The slogan ‘Our dreams will never fit on their ballots’ needs to be remembered. We were fighting for justice before yesterday and we will fight for justice after yesterday. This is the battle we were already fighting and it is a battle we must keep fighting.
We are fighting for a new world, for a different system. On occasion I can see her through the cracks, can, as Arundhati Roy said ‘hear her breathing’. Around the world people are moving, they are taking to the streets, overthrowing governments and pushing for change. Now is not the time to mourn but to organize.
As the Federal government does not reflect our values we shall take to our own communities and work together block by block to ensure that they do. We shall get to know our neighbours and find common ground. We shall no longer be scared by the fences that we have built around us.
We shall work with other communities doing the same thing and together we shall change things in the only way that change could ever be made – from the bottom up.
We shall fight, we shall dance, and we shall love.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
“It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here, what better time than now?” ~Rage Against the Machine