Votes, Voices, and Environmental Vision

This election will be key for Canada. No matter who wins we will be facing down a series of environmental crises ranging from climate change to critical threats to biodiversity. No matter who wins, the same corporate lobbyists who try to stall action to address issues like plastic pollution and climate change will continue their efforts.But elections offer us a window during which party leaders and officials are more engaged with the public. This is a time when party-stances are put to a test in votes, discussed in length on media networks, and a time when candidates find out just how much support their communities are willing to give them.This year we are making change as part of One Earth One Vote. You can take action right now to add your voice to our pledge.Party leaders and candidates have a lot of explaining to do. We’ve heard loud and clear that our country’s rush to develop more reserves of fossil fuels must end. We’ve seen first hand the impacts of climate change in communities across the country. While wildfires caused mass destruction in BC, the Yukon dealt with flooding, and the prairies fought off droughts. For years now coastal communities have watched as erosion creeps ever closer to infrastructure and degraded sea ice, changes in wildlife, and weather conditions continue to impact northern and Indigenous communities.From Data to RealitiesNo matter how many news items we see on climate change or biodiversity it never becomes as real to us as when we see it first hand.I was a contributing author on a recent chapter of a national climate change assessment by the Canadian government – an assessment which makes it clear that we need better support and research to help rural and remote communities in Canada adapt to the impacts of climate change that have already been set into motion. While conducting research on the subject of rural and remote climate impacts I was well aware that as climate change continues to put communities in remote areas, with the least resources to adapt, most at risk.But it’s moments like sandbagging around homes in the Yukon this summer, to hold back rising waters, that drive home to me the reality of what this research actually means. It was understanding that a wildfire in BC could easily cut off food supply to the Yukon, worsening already extensive issues of northern food security. It was seeing communities, back home in Newfoundland and Labrador, deal with the reality of changing coastlines – seeing homes down close to the shoreline and well within predicted margins for sea level rise – that made climate change real for me.Biodiversity too is declining across the globe and unless we act quickly to protect ecosystems here in Canada and elsewhere we will worsen a global extinction event that will undermine the natural world as well as our physical and mental health. People are noticing the changes in environment around their communities that were set into motion by human activity decades ago and which we are continuing to set into motion.What You Can DoThe biodiversity and climate crises we face will make COVID-19 look manageable by comparison unless they are addressed with the same urgency.As voters we have power, not just through our ballots, but through the questions we bring to candidates (on and off-line) to shape the political discourse on these issues for the next four years.Over this next month Sierra Club Canada will be asking you, our members and supporters, to be local champions. We are asking you to make sure that every time a political candidate comes to your door they know you will be voting for our environment.We are asking you to reach out to the people running in your neighbourhood, to the national party leaders, to make sure they put climate change and biodiversity on the top of their agenda. Because there are solutions, lots of them, to the issues we are facing.Make no mistake, this fight doesn’t end when the election does. No matter who is in power it will be our responsibility to make sure they keep their commitments and to keep pushing for more action. This is just the beginning.Don’t Let Candidates ForgetIt’s important that when a candidate or their representative comes to your door you ask them to commit to act on the environment.  If a campaign calls you, spend some time asking important questions about their approach to the climate crisis.Ask them how they will address Indigenous rights to free, prior, and informed consent, climate change, and biodiversity loss. Ask them how they will secure the ability of all people to enjoy and experience nature.Encourage your neighbours and friends to do the same. A full list of the commitments we are calling for during this election can be found here.No matter what issues you discuss, express to your candidates that a parties’ entire platform is an environmental issue. After all, every element of their platform should be in line with necessary climate change and biodiversity goals. As David Currie, our Donor and Member Relations Coordinator, puts it ‘we wouldn’t accept a party platform without proper economic costing, so why would we accept a party platform without proper carbon costing for all proposals.’Sign our pledge today.Together we can make a huge difference.Written by Conor CurtisDigital Communications CoordinatorSierra Club Canada Foundation