Speaker of the House blocking emergency debate on the massive Arctic ice melt


Dear Friend,

I'm on the bus writing about what happened in Parliament last Friday. I still can’t get the day out of my mind... Megan Leslie, NDP MP and Deputy Leader, called for an emergency debate in Parliament on the massive and frightening rapid ice melt in the Arctic this past summer.

Megan eloquently pointed out that the Arctic icecap is responsible for moderating the global climate, and without it we’re in a sea of trouble.

As climatologist Paul Beckwith from Ottawa U’s Laboratory for Paleoclimatology and Climatology told us last week, in all likelihood, for the first time in at least 3 million years, the icecap will be completely gone by the end of 2015. Paul also told us to “hold on because our weather patterns will be drastically destabilized.”

Jet streams are caused by a combination of the planet's rotation and atmospheric heating by solar radiation, and form near boundaries of adjacent air masses with big differences (differentials) in temperature -- such as the polar region and the warmer air towards the equator.

The icecap reflects the sun’s rays, keeping the Arctic environment cool. Without it, the water would absorb sunlight -- rapidly heating it, and the air above it. Even a small change in the temperature differential between the Artic and the tropics greatly weakens the jet stream, resulting in highly unpredictable and severe weather around the planet – we’re seeing it now. If the ice goes completely, the temperature differential would be huge in short time and we’d be officially entering the realm of the unknown unknowns!

So it’s URGENT we understand what's happening and that’s why I was so excited to hear that Megan Leslie requested a debate. I actually ran from my office to Parliament Hill when I heard the news! So I was saddened when the Speaker rose in response to Megan’s request and said: "I don't think that meets the criteria for an emergency debate".

Some would give up at this point, but not us!

Obviously the Speaker, Hon. Andrew Scheer, MP, needs to hear from Canadians – so please click here to send him a brief message urging him to reconsider his decision to block an emergency debate from proceeding.

Below is a copy of the letter I sent this morning. I reminded the speaker that millions of Canadians are depending on him to do the right thing. Please join me and send your letter now.


John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
John on Twitter
More from the Bennett Blog

Hon. Andrew Scheer
Speaker of the House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Tel: 613-992-4593 / Fax: 613-996-3120
Email: andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca

Dear Hon. Speaker:

I am writing to ask that you reconsider your hasty decision to deny the member for Halifax’s request for an emergency debate on this past summer’s unexpected rapid melting of the Arctic icecap.

The situation is dire and meets any reasonable criteria for an emergency debate.

The implications of the loss of so much sea ice -- decades sooner than predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- are enormous and will impact all Canadians. Needless to say this development renders the mitigation and adaptation plans of Canada and the international community obsolete.

The member for Halifax's suggestion that this is an “issue of national security” was correct and clearly justifies the need to convene an emergency debate.

This winter Canadians and citizens around the world are already facing significant increases in food costs as a result of this past summer’s droughts and severe weather events.

It’s time for all members to put aside partisan politics -- an urgent discussion based on science and reason must take place now! Mr. Speaker, I ask you how Canada can plan a response to the unfolding Arctic disaster when debate is prevented in our House of Commons?

We are reaching a climate tipping point and the stakes have never been higher. Surely a looming global food and economic crisis caused by rapid climate change is cause for an emergency debate.

Mr. Speaker, I strongly urge you to look at the science and reconsider your decision.

Millions of Canadians are depending on you.


John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada

Did you know you can donate $10 to Sierra Club Canada by texting SIERRA to 45678 on your mobile phone? To donate $20 just do it twice, etc. You can also donate online via our secure website. We need you more than ever! Make a small donation today. I promise I’ll make every dollar count.