Good Sunday Morning!
And welcome to March.
We do have reason to celebrate on this Sunday Morning.
Seven days ago, on a very good Sunday evening, Teck Resources issued a public letter withdrawing its application to build one of the largest oil sands mines in Alberta’s history – the Teck Frontier project.
The Liberal Cabinet never made a decision. They lucked out and had the decision made for them. The howls of indignation from the Alberta government and Conservatives in Parliament took me aback. They actually blamed the Liberals for a business decision driven by the global price for oil. True, CEO Don Lindsay’s letter managed to suggest that the lack of certainty around climate policy contributed to the decisions. Some in the media managed to interpret his letter as either blaming Trudeau or blaming Kenney. No matter. The project went through its review process with a business case predicated on oil at $95/barrel. Demanding a permit for a project set to cause massive environmental damage and somewhere between 4 and 6 million tons of additional carbon dioxide emissions/year until 2066 was an act of astounding irresponsibility.
Still, Conservative MPs demanded – and got – an emergency debate in Parliament that ran until midnight Tuesday night.
I was given a speaking opportunity from 11:15- 11:45 PM. And I was grateful for it.
I began by agreeing that we were in an emergency – but not the “non-emergency” of Teck decision. I reminded parliament of our June 2019 vote for a motion that we are in a climate emergency. I closed with these words:
“This project was never going to go ahead, but the Liberals have lost their chance for moral courage. They lost the chance to say they would never have approved this. This was, in the words of some Liberal MPs, an easy ‘no.’
“For God’s sake, the Liberals need to stand for something while they have time in this place. They need to stand for future generations and put in place a climate target well before we get to Glasgow in November so that Canada can once again be in the lead. Canada as a climate leader is still possible to imagine.
“I listened to the embarrassing response from the Liberals that it really was not their fault that Teck Frontier did not go ahead. They should stand up and say that they would never have approved it. Then we can believe the Prime Minister might have a notion of being a climate leader.”
You can watch my whole speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXVIZAnIf4k&t=9s
In other better news, the talks have finally started between the federal and provincial governments (The Crown) and the hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. Paul Manly has remained in contact with Hereditary chief Na’moks.
We (Green MPs) have all been trying to help as I continued to speak with the prime minister, Carolyn Bennett, Bill Blair and Marc Miller throughout the week. We have been clear with the Liberal ministers from the beginning that a peaceful resolution required 1) getting the RCMP off Wet’suwet’en territory, 2) getting Coastal Gaslink to stop work during the talks and 3) that the ministers go to the territory to meet. Former NDP MP Nathan Cullen has played a very large role behind the scenes in getting these talks to happen.
As I write this, the ministers are in the second day of talks near Smithers, BC. We have to hope and pray that they come to a resolution that removes barricades and allows true reconciliation to move forward. The risk remains of things unravelling and of – my biggest fear – counter protests that lead to violent clashes. The irresponsible statement from Conservative leadership candidate Peter McKay, celebrating illegal vigilante action in Alberta taking down indigenous barricades, was appalling. This statement alone disqualifies him from ever being prime minister. A hot head on either side could cause a dangerous clash. Maintaining the solidarity actions as non-violent is essential.
And more good news for this Sunday Morning. Did you see the court decision from the UK denying Heathrow Airport a third runway? It is the first time that a court anywhere in the world has ruled that their government’s commitments under the Paris Agreement create a legal obligation to stop increasing fossil fuel emissions! It is a major development, and one, believe it or not, celebrated by UK prime minister Boris Johnson. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/feb/27/heathrow-third-runway-ruled-illegal-over-climate-change
As for Canada’s courts, Monday’s decision from the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled the federal back- stop carbon pricing scheme unconstitutional. This is the first court to do so as both the top Ontario and Saskatchewan courts ruled that the federal government has powers to set a minimum carbon price under the “Peace, Order and Good Government” provisions of our Constitution. The Ontario and Saskatchewan courts had little trouble ruling that the climate crisis is a matter of “national concern.” So watch for the constitutionality of federal carbon pricing to be resolved by the Supreme Court of Canada over the coming months.
And as my father always said on the 1st of March, “In like a lion, out like a lamb.” Wouldn’t it be nice to feel a peaceful and joyful spring just around the corner?
Love and thanks,
PS The federal council elections for the Green Party of Canada are coming up soon. There are many open positions on the federal council that (unlike the leader!) actually runs the party. Please consider running, and please make sure you are a paid up GPC member to vote in this very important election and the fall 2020 leadership race.
See these links for details: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/council/election-2020
The Rules for council nomination and elections are here: https://www.greenparty.ca/en/council/election-2020/rules
This weekly blog is published by Elizabeth’s EDA in Saanich-Gulf Islands. You can sign up for it here.