Less than 24 hours after the vote, I got a powerful, personal snapshot of what the incoming government's message of change and hope might look like.
Action on Climate Change: The Timing Matters
As a member of Climate Action Network Canada, Sierra Club Canada Foundation has signed on to a post-election letter to Prime Minister-Designate Justin Trudeau. The letter urges Mr. Trudeau to meet with provincial and territorial premiers before a make-or-break climate change summit in Paris in early December and strengthen Canada’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
During the campaign, Mr. Trudeau promised to convene the premiers to discuss climate and energy policy within 90 days of forming a government. The letter explains why that would be too late.
Delivering the Message to Justin Trudeau
I heard that Mr. Trudeau would be thanking his volunteers and campaign team at a hotel ballroom, just one short block from our Ottawa office. With the new Prime Minister and his campaign team so close at hand, I knew we had to reach someone with the influence to push climate change higher on the new government’s policy agenda.
What else could I do? I grabbed my co-worker, Aneta, and off we went to try to personally deliver the post-election letter to Canada’s next Prime Minister—the letter explaining why stopping climate change has to be at the top of his agenda and demanding quicker action than he promised during the election.
We arrived at the ballroom and mingled with an excited, energetic crowd of campaign volunteers, staff, and several newly-elected Members of Parliament. We talked to a couple of MPs, then a couple of campaign volunteers, who all saw the importance of the message we were trying to deliver. We’re now arranging meetings with several of them.
I climbed a tall step ladder to get a better view of the room and discovered most of the MPs-to-be were at the front of the hall, waiting for Mr. Trudeau to arrive. When I was abruptly ordered off the ladder by a Liberal Party volunteer, I took it as another conversation opener…and asked who I should deliver the letter to. He gave us the name of the new government’s policy director, along with some great advice on how to get the letter into his hands.
Mr. Trudeau appeared, and all eyes and energy were focused on him. After his speech, we couldn’t get anywhere near him, but we did see Will Amos, a public interest environmental lawyer who has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada and is now an MP-in-waiting. He pointed us to a party official who assured me the letter would be handed directly to Justin Trudeau.
It was just one small mission accomplished.
Shortly after I heard that Mr Trudeau had left that event to give his first media conference after the election. He announced that he would meet with the Premiers within two weeks about the Paris Summit. Of course, our letter had not reached him that quickly. But we are hopeful that given he has already taken the first step, that he will also commit to the next four steps that we laid out in our letter to him.
That he moved that quickly to respond more appropriately to the urgency of climate change than he had said he would during the campaign, illustrates that he has been listening to you and all of us that care about the environment. This important step by a new government would not have been possible without the Sierra's work over the years.
So delivering a letter isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning of what we have to achieve together.
We need Canada to play a positive role at pre-summit preparatory meetings in Paris November 8-10, and in Antalya, Turkey November 15-16.
We need our country to commit to deeper carbon cuts and a 100% renewable energy future, to build momentum toward a robust global agreement at the Paris summit.
And in the new year, we’ll have to move Canada’s climate commitments into the fast lane, with policies and programs to speed the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.
You Have the Power
There are two things you can do to help.
First, give yourself a big round of applause. If you’re one of the many hundreds of Sierra members and supporters who joined the wave of Canadians that made this change happen…this celebration belongs to you.
Second, please make a generous donation to Sierra Club Canada Foundation, and consider making your contribution a monthly gift.
The last three days have highlighted what a powerful role Sierra can play in advocating for the change we need from Canada’s new government. I’m truly in awe of all that you do as a member, supporter, volunteer. We’re right beside you, and we aren’t letting up.
Not until the job is done.
Interim Executive Director
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