By Angelica Ingram
Sept. 1 2016
The leader of the Green Party of Canada wants the residents of the Haliburton Highlands to help her out.
That was the key message Elizabeth May delivered on Aug. 25 when she addressed more than 300 guests who came to hear her speak as part of a sold out fundraiser for Environment Haliburton.
Described as someone devoted to the enhancement of our natural world May was introduced by Minden born Ryan Sisson who worked with the politician during her years with Sierra Club Canada.
“After a few minutes of listening to Elizabeth speak I was hooked” said Sisson.
With a jovial and infectious demeanour May got right to the point and left no stone unturned whether it was about the importance of local food multinational corporations or the climate crisis the meat of the matter.
“We have a real opportunity here in Canada” said May describing her message as a hopeful one.
The leader of the federal Green Party for the past decade May is a member of Parliament for the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands in B.C.
May is no stranger to the Highlands as she is connected to the area through relatives.
The topic of her talk The Climate Crisis: Where's the Action delved into the climate crisis around us and the work being done by governments around the globe.
“Mainstream media covers the climate crisis but never mentions it” said May pointing to natural disasters such as the Louisiana flooding and California fires. “Most often no one mentions could this have to do with climate change?”
Pointing to more localized examples May said this past July was the warmest month on record measuring 0.78 degrees higher than the prior record set.
“Most of this is not news to you” she said. “What we're seeing now is just beyond the realm of normal.”
Climate change action is about creating a livable world for future generations said May. Eighty per cent of the climate crisis is caused by burning fossil fuels.
“Of course we are very very dependent on fossil fuels” she said.
May has long been advocating for environmental causes.
In 1992 she attended the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) also known as the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The summit led to an agreement on the Climate Change Convention which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement which is still being acted on 24 years later said May.
Canada is the only country to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol leading our country to fall well behind areas like the E.U. on climate change action she said.
Pointing to a poor environment record by former prime minister Stephen Harper whom she only referred to as “what's his name” May encouraged the crowd to make their voices heard on the matter.
“Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up” she said. “We've got a lot of work to do.”
May pointed to achievements made by the current federal government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at COP 21 the Paris Climate Conference held in 2015.
“We had functioning working meetings with First Nation representatives youth representatives organized labour business people too. Yes we were all there … and talked about what we needed to do” she said. “And Catherine McKenna [Minister of Environment and Climate Change] speaking for the first time on the floor of the meeting on behalf of Canada took our position and upped our game and shifted the negotiations for everyone in the room. She said Canada wants to see a legally binding convention where we aim to avoid more than 1.5 degrees and surely stay well before two.”
May said she was so proud of the action.
“Where the negotiations ended up was it was a stronger treaty than we had expected when we went in and it really had a lot to do with Canada” she said. “And I am very grateful to Justin Trudeau for that and I'm very grateful to Catherine McKenna.”
Since the conference however work has stalled said May.
“The problem I have with the progress we've made so far is we haven't touched the targets” she said.
That is why she needs our help.
“The only way we're going to get action from our government is if they know Canadians want action” she said adding we need to hold politicians accountable for climate change targets.
“We need to educate other Canadians we need to educate our MPs we need to educate our media.”
May encouraged people to write letters to the editor and have their voices heard.
“There are more good ideas out there we have a real chance here” she said. “I believe Justin Trudeau intends to do the right thing but he has big obstacles in his way.”