Happy May Day!!!
There are many meanings and connotations to the “May Day” greeting. Maybe I paid attention to collecting all the meanings since May Day is sort of MY day!
Since 1889, the day has been marked as International Workers’ Day in commemoration of the 1886 brutal police crack down on peaceful labour union organizers attacked in Chicago. Striking workers in the Haymarket Protest trying to gain an eight-hour work day were assaulted by police, with a devastating toll of workers and police killed.
Much earlier, pagan celebrations of rites of spring and fertility connect the first of May with dancing round the May pole. Historians trace these rituals to Roman times, but when I was a schoolgirl we still managed to tangle ourselves up in ribbons while trying to braid the ceremonial pole.
One of my favourite local celebrations is May Day on Mayne. It is coming back this year (May 21) with its traditional Morris Dancers, crowning of the Queen of the May, a battalion of tiny children festooned in fairy wings and flowers — plus a lot of ribald humour surrounding erecting the pole; double entendres of the Shakespearean variety.
Yet another meaning is more relevant today. “Mayday! Mayday!” is an internationally recognized distress signal. It actually has nothing to do with May but is reputed to come from British officers dealing with marine traffic on the English Channel. SOS did not communicate well bilingually, but Mayday did. It made sense in French, translating “Help me!” to “M’aidez!”
That is what I think we are all feeling under the weight of pandemic, climate crisis and war. The unstable global situation with the devastating loss of innocent lives in Ukraine. We are in distress. Mayday! Who will come to help us?
It puts me in mind of one of Barack Obama’s great lines: “We are the people we have been waiting for.”
Which is a more motivational way of saying “no one is coming.”
We have to save ourselves. We have to start acting as the heroes in our own stories. The essential step is to recognize that we have agency. We are not merely passengers on this Spaceship Earth. We are the crew. In democracies, we are also the captain and engineer. We are the only species creating the nightmare. So we need to do two things: wake up (ending the nightmare) and realize we are worth saving.
We cannot let the outrages of the last few weeks pass without notice. On April 4, the final chapter of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released. (covered in more detail in April 10 GSM: https://elizabethmaymp.
Our timeline to save ourselves just got alarmingly soon. As one lead IPCC author put it, “It’s now or never.” We have to ensure globally that GHG emissions have peaked no later than by 2025 and drop rapidly from there to be cut in half by 2030. Then – two days later – the Liberals approved Bay du Nord with as many as one billion barrels of oil thrown on the fire. Then April 7, the 2022 budget was released, with its inadequate climate actions, continuation and expansion of fossil fuel subsidies, support for experimental nuclear reactors and the commitment to build the TMX pipeline.
If anyone asks you why we need the Greens, consider this. Every single NDP MP voted for that budget, even with the commitment to complete the Trans Mountain pipeline. And their agreement with the Liberals means they will keep voting for whatever disastrous climate policy (and all others) the Liberals dictate.
Here is how I confronted Prime Minister Trudeau on Wednesday, asking with a choice between “Now or Never,” why did he choose “never?”
One very inspiring Green, William Gagnon, just took some steps in the hero’s journey. He quit his job as a climate change strategic lead in the Northwest Territorial government’s Department of Infrastructure. He made his resignation very public, putting it in a tweet. He explained he had been made to feel “irrelevant, confused and gaslit.” If you remember his name, he is a past member of federal GPC council and was the campaign manager in Courtney Howard’s leadership run in 2020. https://cabinradio.
That reminds me, if you are a GPC member, you have until May 11 to cast your vote in the council elections. If you have NOT received your emailed ballot, please let us know! (email@example.com)
Meanwhile, another Green hero is finally getting some favourable news coverage! Have a look at this great article on Green potential in Ontario and Mike Schreiner’s inspiring work:
With a June 2 fixed election date, while no start date is firm, May 4th is widely expected to be the day the writ drops and our Ontario cousins are off to the races. Do all you can to help Mike Schreiner return to Queens Park with more MPPs!
There are so many ways to step up in the fight against climate change. One of our regular GSM subscribers came up with this great way to express the International Energy Agency’s 10 point plan.
Please share it!
LESS IS MORE
- Lower speed limits significantly
- Expand telework
- Sunday city driving ban
- Support walking, cycling, micro-mobility and public transit
- Internal combustion vehicle alternate day licensing
- Strengthen HOV lane and carpooling programs
- Maximize freight efficiency
- Overnight high speed rail services to replace air travel
- Reduce business travel
- Electrify vehicles and building heat.
So on this May Day, I call on all of us to save all of us. The IPCC says we must peak emissions by 2025. We have three years. But we have already used up four months, so we have thirty-two months. We have 974 days.
No time for sulking, wringing our hands or weeping. While we still have time to save ourselves, we need to work constantly, constructively, and diligently to ensure humanity makes the necessary – transformative, disruptive and revolutionary – changes. Fast.
May Day is about workers and working. And celebrating life; weaving around the May pole with Mother Earth laying down the rainbow river of colours. And May Day is about saving the world.
What are we waiting for?
Happy May Day!
Love and peace,
Some of what I did in the House this week:
My Private Members Bill, C-226, to confront Environmental Racism got to Second Reading. Here is my speech:
My speech on Budget 2022 and why I voted against it:
May 3: Upcoming webinar on fossil fuel subsidies featuring Mike Morrice:
Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies Town Hall
Tuesday, May 3 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET (4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT)
Register here to receive the zoom link.
Join Members of Parliament Laurel Collins, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Mike Morrice and Monique Pauzé for a discussion moderated by Climate Action Network Canada on advancing Canada’s commitments to phase out subsidies and public finance to oil and gas.
Deadline on my petition to ban thermal coal is May 10 – thanks to so many of you, we are over 5,000 signatories now. Please sign if you haven’t!
In case you missed it!
Corporate Knights launched its Earth Index and I was honoured to be an opening speaker on a panel with Toby Heaps, Ralph Torrie, Amy Haddon, Sean Kidney and Severn Cullis-Suzuki.
On April 28th, I was pleased to address Victoria City Council about the proposed Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty. You can listen to my comments at 28:08 minutes here: