I spent three days this past week as part of the media team covering the Climate Summit of the Americas, and the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Toronto. It was my first experience as an accredited reporter and a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists. Being a member of the press has its privileges and its responsibilities.
One of those privileges was the chance to spend three intense days with our Premier, Environment and Climate Change Minister, First Nations Grand Chiefs and Chiefs, Governors, Mayors, and former Presidents and Vice-Presidents, including every climate change denier’s nemesis, Al Gore.
But the majority of the delegates were business leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers, and community leaders. They were there to acknowledge that the tide had turned, that the change to a low-carbon economy and society was already underway, and that the era of fossil fuel energy was going the way of the dinosaurs.
One of the responsibilities of the press is to report honestly and accurately, without bias or exclusion, in a news report. An editorial commentary has free reign for opinion. This is an editorial.
While two cabinet ministers from “Our Government™”, Tony Clement and Lisa Raitt, attended the Economic Forum, no one from the federal government showed up at the Climate Summit, prompting Governor Jerry Brown of California to tell Stephen Harper to “Get with it!”
While Leona Aglukkaq frolicked in Nunavut, and Stephen Harper picknicked in Rouge Park with Earth Rangers attired children in the photo op, Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Inuk defender and a member of the Order of Canada spoke to the Climate Summit delegates from her heart and soul. She stated: “What is needed is a debate on human rights – it is a moral and ethical imperative.”
This is much more than an issue of climate science and economic opportunity. In the Arctic this is a critical issue of social justice and the failure to address it is criminal.
When the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment fail to show up for the debate, it sends a very clear signal to Canadians. It says, “We really just don’t care.” The road to to Paris, like the road to Hell, is paved with election photo-ops. So while Harper posed for the press with his new children’s crusade, and Aglukkaq fiddled in the far north while the Arctic melted, the Province of Ontario stood up, was counted, and took action.
On Thursday, July 9, 2015, Ontario and 21 other states, provinces and regions signed the first-ever Pan American Climate Action Statement. Felipe Calderon, former President of Mexico, best summed up the significance of this event: “We now have clear evidence of states, provinces, cities, and businesses leading the way on climate action and achieving strong economic growth at the same time. This Summit has been an incredible demonstration of this bottom-up momentum and should inspire more ambition by all on the road to Paris.”
Our current federal government is missing in action. Sending Stephen Harper or one of his minions to Paris, would be as embarrassing for Canada on the world stage as if Rob Ford had still been in office to open Toronto’s Pan-Am and Para-Pan-Am Games. In October we will have the opportunity to pick a different team to represent Canada at the Climate Summit in Paris. Let’s hope that we pick a team that understands the science and cares about the human condition.
Skid Crease, Caledon