Today is Day 10 of the Russian illegal, unprovoked assault on Ukraine. In some ways, the world response has been inspiring. Modern democracies are stepping up with sanctions and defensive military support. Canadians, as are people around the world, are standing for democracy, supporting the people of Ukraine and the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Modern political leaders are not condemned for leaving their country when it is under siege. Previous Ukrainian presidents have fled. The president of Afghanistan left this summer, ahead of Taliban advances. It has been a long time since September 11, 1973 when Chilean President Salvador Allende stayed as the fascist Pinochet launched a military coup. When President Zelensky turned down the US offer to get him and his family to safety, saying “I don’t need a ride. I need more ammunition…”, I think, like almost all the world, I was deeply moved.
We need to help defend Ukraine. I am fully in support of every move our government has made to hit Russia’s economy with sanctions. Canada has been pressuring other countries to deny Russian plutocrats and oligarchs access to their billions. Chrystia Freeland is uniquely well qualified. She wrote the book, Sale of the Century (2000). She watched at close range the theft of Russia’s resources by a criminal class of capitalists.
The fall of the Berlin Wall did not lead to democracy for Russia, but to a ruthless autocracy.
When parliament resumed this Monday, we had a late night debate in which I had an allotted 5 minutes to speak a bit before midnight. I spoke to the failure of the west to provide a Marshall Plan for what was the USSR. Had we done that, had we promoted the development of democratic institutions, a vigorous civil society, we could have avoided what the Russian government has become under Putin. The work of Mikhael Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in eliminating nuclear weapons lies in tatters. Canada has not even signed the Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Here is the link to my speech.
A recurrent theme in parliament this week, with a full day of debate on Thursday on a Conservative motion, has been based on the claim that Ukraine needs Canadian fossil fuels. The Conservatives and Alberta government call for new pipelines is particularly absurd. How long a war do they want? Even if every approval was granted without a single consultation under UNDRIP, not a single page of evidence in review, the building of any such pipeline would be years from now.
Most critical is that Zelensky has spelled out what he wants and needs. He wants a no-fly zone and ammunition, anti-aircraft guns. He wants humanitarian aid. He has never mentioned needing Canadian bitumen or fracked gas. There is no doubt that dependence on Russian exports has to end. Russia is the biggest exporter of oil in the world. The rapid development of its fossil fuels owed much to Big Oil, Shell, BP, Exxon. Shell and BP exited Russia- and at real financial cost – days ago. Yesterday, Exxon despite deep ties to Putin (former CEO Rex Tillerson having won Russia’s highest award to a foreign friend, The Order of Friendship) has also dumped its Russian assets.
One of the first decisions of Germany’s new Minister of Economy and Energy, Green co-leader Robert Habeck, was to cancel its biggest carbon project with Russia – the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. “Now is the time to accelerate and shift to renewables. It’s being a petrostate and having dictators of petrostates that makes the world less safe.” Germany has moved its target for 100% renewably sourced electricity from 2040 to 2035.
The Energy Commissioner for the European Union, Kadri Simson, said this: The crisis in Russia means that we have to “boost renewable energies and energy efficiency as fast as technologically possible”. The EU is not building pipelines to Ukraine. It wants to extend its electrical power grid to Ukraine.
I quoted frequently this week the powerful statement from climate scientist and head of the Ukraine IPCC delegation, Svitlana Krakowska, “Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots: fossil fuels and our dependence on them,” Krakovska said in an impassioned speech Sunday. “We will not surrender in Ukraine. And we hope the world will not surrender in building a climate-resilient future.”
Her speech brought an unexpected response from the head of the Russian delegation, Dr. Oleg Anisimov. He apologized for Putin’s actions, no doubt shortening his career: “those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for the attack.”
Dr. Krakowska made her statement as she sheltered from bombs falling on her homeland. She, with thousands of other IPCC scientists, had just finished the work on the release of Working Group 2’s Sixth Assessment Report, dubbed “an atlas of human suffering” by U. N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
In my one chance for a 60-second statement for this cycle in parliament, I tried to bring together the global threats to democracy, peace and our planet, drawing on one of Al Gore’s great lines: “if we fail to address global warming, our future will look like a nature walk through the Book of Revelations:
As I debated in Ottawa, the brilliant Sonia Furstenau was debating the same points to the BC Minister of Environment.
Green leader Amita Kuttner, Mike Morrice and I held a press conference on the importance of the IPCC report:
Mike focused his question period time on the looming question of whether the Liberals will approve the horrific off-shore deep water oil drilling project – Bay du Nord. Bay du Nord, off the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, is actually three separate oil fields over 1,000 metres deep. Recent estimates put its size as something near a billion recoverable barrels. After Mike’s question, the government announced another 40 day delay, so you have until April 13 to send your letters demanding they say “no.” https://www.cbc.ca/news/
I have not written much about my work to get Bill C-226 passed. It is my bill to develop a federal policy to confront environmental racism; originally Liberal Lenore Zann’s bill C-230 in the last parliament, which I had seconded. On Wednesday, I got this pledge of support from the government: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Many toxic dumps fall into this category, but maybe none so flagrant as the illegal dumping on Kanesatake. https://easterndoor.com/2022/
I hope – as ever – for miracles. For the Russian billionaires to decide Putin is a liability. For Russian troops to refuse to follow orders. For the tipping point moment of rejecting Russian oil to lead the world to reject all oil.
It is all possible.
Try to stay positive in these bleak times. This Sunday morning, for the first time in ages, I am heading to church for an “in person” service. I know some readers hate it when I mention any faith, so apologies.
Have faith in the universe, have faith in each other. And pray for peace.
Saanich-Gulf Islands Greens