Update to my original blog: In the 24 hours after #ThroneSpeech2020, promising 1 Million #climate jobs , Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O'Regan has announced $320 Million for Newfoundland and Labrador #oilandgas subsidies.
As you know, we were deeply concerned that as COVID-19 numbers rose once more and the fossil fuel lobby intensified its efforts, the federal government would take its eye off the ball of a just recovery for Canadians. Commitments in yesterday's Speech from the Throne show this has not happened - yet.
A deep thanks to all of you for actions, calls, and emails so far to push for a just recovery. The federal budgetary update is just around the corner, and this is where the rubber will really hit the road on these commitments - so please keep it up!
Two days after side-stepping damage in Hurricane Teddy on the East Coast, we know that a just recovery is the only way to ensure this crisis, and the government resources needed to confront it, are invested in measures that will keep Canadians safe from the other crises confronting us now: the climate emergency and the unravelling of the fabric of life that sustains us all.
Some good news in the Throne Speech included:
● a new commitment to urban nature protection - something our members are pushing for in Montreal, Southern Ontario, and Edmonton
● climate action will be the "cornerstone” of the government's plans for creating 1 million jobs
● a commitment to ban single-use plastics and encouraging more recycling in 2021 (that’s only four months away!)
● a commitment to tackling toxics in the mandated reform of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
● passing legislation to bind Canada to meeting its climate targets and uphold its obligations as a signatory to the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Of course, as you know, we have been alarmed by statements from the federal Natural Resources Minister regarding requests for support for bailing out the offshore oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and that the dangerous and costly nuclear industry would succeed in getting bail out money as well.
Things like getting Nova Scotia and New Brunswick off coal, promised in the Throne Speech, must be linked with commitments to respect Indigenous rights and to protect rivers. The promised investments in “next-generation clean energy” cannot include more mega-hydro or small nuclear reactors. These fears are well-founded, since the pandemic began, the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s Energy Policy Tracker shows Canada has invested $12.3 Billion USD (about $327 per capita) to fossil fuels sectors versus $2.99 Billion supporting “clean” energy (or $77 per capita) since the beginning of the COVID pandemic response.
Clearly, we can't sit by and let what is a massive and promising governmental agenda slip into broken promises and failed investments of our collective savings. We need to keep up the pressure to travel through what is a scarry and uncertain time to a much better place for us all.
The Throne Speech has been referred to as "unicorn soup" because it has lots of nice things in it, and presumably, some magic will be needed to accomplish them. As a mother of a five-year-old, I can tell you unicorns play a big part in my life. I know how important they can be. But it takes a lot of work, pressure, and imagination to make them really come through and do their thing.
We will not to be fooled by the promises of unicorns, but perhaps we can commit to working harder than ever to make some of these most critical promises from the federal government take wing and get us all to a better place.