We are in a climate emergency and it really hits home. Home. As in my husband’s home of longstanding – his farm in Ashcroft, B.C. Ashcroft is in the range of Canada’s only true desert. It gets hot. The kids live there now, but news of advancing temperatures of incredible heat, even for Ashcroft, of 47 degrees, happening to hit when the irrigation system is down with a broken pump and wobbly electricity, is an emergency at many levels. John has to get there. With me laid up and never so dependent on someone looking after me. He keeps saying “This is the pointy edge of global heating. Maybe it is time to sell.” Climate emergency.
It is global. The heat wave stretches from Siberia to Sicily – Mexico to the Yukon. For Moscow, this is the second record breaking heat wave since mid-May.
Over both Europe and North America, the heat extremes are caused by something called “heat domes.” High altitude heat is trapping heat at ground. The heat dome blocks clouds and rains, eliminating relief from the intense heat and drought. My friend, Canadian climate scientist Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, now at Texas Tech University, explained heat domes to U.S. media as leading to “longer and more intense heat waves because it creates a feedback cycle… the hotter temperatures become, the stronger the heat dome gets, and vice versa.”
Of course, the heat intensity at high altitudes is due to global warming, caused by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Another unusual aspect of the current heat domes is that they are forming so far north. Far north and early in the summer season. Climate emergency. Heat emergency. Health emergency.
We are reaping what we have sown. This is a small taste of it. Without radical, drastic changes in how human economies function, we will soon be engaging in triage: where is safe to live and what parts of the planet are write-offs.
In parliament, it is Green MPs who speak to what is really at stake. With Jenica gone (hard words to write) and me knocked out by knee surgery, thank God for Paul Manly. He has been doing triple duty – on the Broadcasting Act, the budget bill and climate legislation. As the fake Climate Accountability Act (C-12) edged toward the finish line, Paul gave one of his finest speeches ever. https://www.youtube.com/
Paul reminded the House that just two years ago we passed a motion that we are in a climate emergency. And still, the Trudeau Liberals are building a pipeline, aiming for pathetically weak climate targets. Closer to home, John Horgan’s NDP has massively expanded fossil fuel subsidies while betting on fracking and LNG. Perhaps the most inexplicable failure is that of most environmental groups to call out the cowardice implicit in C12. (By the way, Dogwood and Leadnow avoided the trap of celebrating the incremental. West Coast Environmental Law was more measured. StandEarth stands apart as well – supporting Fairy Creek protesters and also keeping up the pressure to stop TMX. I recently discovered that StandEarth was financing key logistical supports for front line indigenous land protectors from Fairy Creek to Tiny House Warriors. Good to know. https://www.stand.earth/
As Paul said, C12 is only barely better than nothing. On that basis, we voted for it. I helped it move more quickly through committee week before last by pulling many of my amendments, having worked to see one meaningful amendment accepted. The amendment was developed by Senator Rosa Galvez who stood ready to try to improve bill in the Senate. Her idea was to, at least, provide a mandatory check five years after the bill becomes law for parliament to see if it is working. I cannot move amendments once the committee has started on clause by clause. Through the weirdest of procedural pretzels, Greens are required to submit all amendments 48 hours before clause by clause begins. But with the clock ticking and rumours of an early fall election, Bloc Quebecois MP Monique Pauzé moved the amendment. Thankfully (and somewhat incredibly!), we got support from the Conservatives. All Liberals voted against it. I appreciated that NDP MP Taylor Bachrach voted for it, having voted against every good amendment that was not pre-authorized by the Liberal-NDP pact. (I have written about this before and hope not to bore you! Here is a refresher: https://www.
A squeaker of a decision for “better than nothing.” C12 is now before the Senate. The Senate environment committee has already completed a pre-study of the climate bill, not waiting for the House to pass it over. With that one small, but key amendment accepted, there is a good chance C12 will be passed before the recess. The Senate added two more sitting days to its calendar – tomorrow and the day after.
Still, one never knows. Wednesday, the last day the House was in session, saw many unanimous consent deals evaporate with news that the government had gone to court on a key issue of parliamentary jurisdiction. The decision of the Liberals was a shock. The government launched a court challenge against the Speaker’s ruling requiring the production of documents related to the firing of National Microbiology Laboratory scientists from the Peoples Republic of China. https://globalnews.ca/
It may yet impact expected agreements in the Senate on key bills.
Meanwhile, once again, we are collectively grief-stricken by mounting evidence of genocide. On Tuesday, Chief Cadmus Delorme of the Cowessess First Nation announced the discovery of as many as 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan. He said, “The world is watching Canada as we unearth the findings of genocide. We had concentration camps here. We had them here in Canada, in Saskatchewan, they were called Indian residential schools… Now we have evidence.”
For survivors of residential “schools” and their families, this is a time of unbearable grief. Settler Canadians must show solidarity by listening. And by demanding justice. All the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission must be acted upon; so too the calls for justice from the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2S+.
Thursday is Canada Day. No fireworks please. The calls to mark Canada Day with a sobering reflection on what colonialization has meant for the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island is a moment for our growing up. https://sylviaolsen.com/
Thanks to my daughter Cate for writing last week’s letter. I am still not through the first phase of this recovery. Please forgive me if the emails pile up and I have not returned your phone call. I know many of you opened today’s letter hoping for more details on internal Green Party news. Those are not for me to share. As former leader, I must remain in the background, giving space to Annamie Paul. I am deeply grateful for the thousands of Green Party members and volunteers who are working hard, committed to the six core values of our party: Grassroots Democracy, Ecological Wisdom, Social Justice, Respect for Diversity, Peace and Non-Violence, Sustainability.
Respect for these will see us through.
e-3330 Establish a National Council of Reconciliation (closes June 28)
e-3164 Implement a national living wage (closes June 29)
e-3474 COVID-19 public health and safety response (closes July 15)
e-3383 Future DND land use (closes July 6)
e-3348 Canada‘s alleged political interference in Haiti (closes July 29)
e-3408 Work with First Nations to immediately halt old-growth logging (closes September 8)
e-3483 Moratorium on deep seabed mining (closes September 9)
e-3398 Redefine our nation’s defence policy (closes August 25)
e-3364 Marine Protection (closes October 13)
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens