Climate Accountability Act Needs Support From Politicians With Vision

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:, 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.

Supporters Join “Starving For Change” Hunger Striker to Increase Pressure on Parliamentarians to Pass Bill C311, the Climate Accountability Act

Hunger striker Dante Ryel of Waterloo has now gone for 2 weeks without food. The 26 year old Waterloo, Ontario man is fasting to get the attention of parliamentarians and the public about Bill C311, the Canadian Climate Change Accountability Act that is currently making its way through parliament. Ryel is choosing to fast to underscore the importance of addressing climate change now, before millions of people across the world are put at risk of starvation due to changing climate conditions. Bill C311 would put Canada in the forefront of addressing climate change, rather than being a laggard as it has been under both Harper’s Conservatives and the previous Liberal governments.

Here is Ryel’s press release:

Group Fasts for Historic Climate Bill
Waterloo, March 15, 2010

More than 20 group members of the Starving for Change Facebook group will be fasting in solidarity in an effort to pressure federal M.P.s to vote for the Climate Change Accountability Act. The solidarity fast was organized as a Facebook event and includes a diverse collection of concerned citizens. The 24 hour fast this Tuesday will conclude as the group’s founder, Dante Ryel, completes his second full week without food. Also known as Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act commits Canada to ambitious greenhouse gas targets. Canada’s federal M.P.s will vote on Bill C-311 for the third, and final, time in several weeks. Ryel will fast until Liberals or Conservatives, either of which can ultimately determine the bill’s fate, publicly commit to the legislation.

“Bill C-311 is is a great opportunity for Canada to salvage our reputation as an environmentally friendly nation” says Ryel, founder of Starving for Change. “The world will be a whole lot hungrier if climate change gets out of control. This is Canada’s opportunity to save billions of people across the planet.”

The NDP’s Bruce Hyer introduced Bill C-311 as a private member’s bill. In October, 42 Liberal MPs supported a controversial Conservative motion to delay Bill C-311 which prevented it from becoming law before the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change.  Harper’s popularity continues to suffer because of his weak leadership on climate change.

View one of Ryel’s videos below.

To support Ryel and become a fan of “Starving for Change” on Facebook, click here.


To read my earlier post about Ryel’s action, click here.

“Olympic-Gate”: Winter Athletes Part of Climate Conspiracy

Olympic athletes joined with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations to call on Canada to save the winter Olympics and end the oil sands destruction.  Amid unusually warm weather and lack of snow, the Vancouver Olympics are quickly becoming an international embarrassment; a headline on The Guardian website this week blared “Vancouver Games Continue Downhill Slide From Disaster to Calamity. Reuters reported that:

Vancouver’s Olympic smile is slipping. The beautiful city’s “Sea to Sky” Games seem to be sinking into a sea of meltwater, mud and straw while organizers scramble to get the extravaganza back on track.

This week prominent winter Olympians went public about their concerns over the connection between climate change and Canada’s production of  “the dirtiest oil on earth”.

Jeremy Jones, a mountain snowboarding legend and founder of Protect our Winters had this to say:

Canada has some of the best snowboarding in the world, but the oil sands industry is going to blow it. This is the dirtiest oil on earth. If we want to save our snow, we have to stop it.”

Mike Richter, Olympic hockey goalie and silver medalist said:

We can’t seriously combat global warming while getting fuel from the world’s dirtiest source. Unless we act now to combat climate change, it could put an end to the winters we know and love.”

World champion freeskier and founder of the Save Our Snow Foundation Alison Gannett said she had already witnessed glaciers melting and ski areas closing around the world because of climate change.  She went on to say:

The global warming emissions from the oil sands are a threat to the future of skiing and the health of our kids.”

Increasing concern over the impact of global warming on the future of snow sports is putting a spotlight on Canada’s oil sands industry, the country’s fastest growing source of global warming pollution and the dirtiest form of oil in the world.

Yesterday, Sierra Club launched a U.S.-based “Love Winter, Hate the Oil Sands” campaign that includes ads targeting winter sports enthusiasts, a new website, a sticker giveaway, and tens of thousands of emails asking Americans to sign a petition to President Obama. Their press release stated:

Oil sands production emits three times the global warming pollution as conventional oil and requires clear cutting ancient forests, wasting and polluting water, and leaving behind massive toxic lakes. By accelerating climate change, the oil sands threaten to bring more drought, receding glaciers, and early snowmelt, creating a bleak future for Olympic sports like skiing and snowboarding.

The industry has proposed expanding into the U.S. via a sprawling network of pipelines and refineries that would crisscross Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota and Illinois, in many cases using substandard pipe and threatening drinking water and farmland.

“If we allow the oil sands to expand into America, it will undermine all we’ve done to create good, clean, homegrown American energy. By denying permits for these pipelines, we can signal to the rest of the world that our nation is serious about becoming a global leader in the clean energy economy,” said Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope.

Opposition to the oil sands is growing as people learn more about the industry. Just last week, two Fortune 500 companies, Whole Foods and Bed Bath and Beyond, announced they were going to remove the oil sands from their supply chains. On an interesting side note,  Whole Foods shares jumped 8% this week.

BC-based environmental watchdog Dogwood Initiative is participating in spreading the “Save Winter” campaign. They guided  “Team Polar Bear” through the city of Vancouver in an effort to rescue the Winter Olympics from the oil sands industry. According to their website:

With record temperatures threatening the Vancouver 2010 Olympic games, an unexpected team from the north has appeared to rescue the Olympics, only by saving winter itself.

Meet Team Polar Bear, a family of three furry giants, that has traveled South to get to the bottom of the disappearing snow in their arctic home, only to discover that Canada, the country that prides itself on its frosty fortitude, is itself one of the worst climate culprits.

If you, too, want to protect winter and save our snow, you can send a message to President Obama to stop America’s dependence on the tar sand’s dirty oil by clicking here.  To send a message to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, click here for contact information. You can visit Save Our Snow’s Facebook page here. After you’ve taken action, get out for a walk or a cross country ski and enjoy the winter that we have right now!

Snow People