2007 According to Lien Thoo: Green Politics in Canada
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy
As we make our way through 2007, I reflect on 2006 to see what might be in store for us in the new year. Here in Canada, we had a federal election that resulted in the Conservative Party of Canada holding power in a minority government. For Treehuggers, this was not good news especially for those living in Ontario where 8 years of Tory rule proved deadly for the environment. Pre-election posturing by the Tories indicated that they understood the issues and that they were prepared and ready to implement a "Made in Canada" solution that would bring results. For better or for worse, this is the system of democracy we currently abide by so, I had to accept the decisions of the voters and hope that my fears were unfounded. With a minority government where all opposition parties sit well left of the ruling party, surely this new government would not dare to do anything harsh. Despite our awareness that Kyoto would be in jeopardy under this new administration - I held my breath, bit my tongue and hoped to be wrong.
Well, a full year has passed. A full year where all my worst fears were realized. Funding to programs aimed at helping people conserve energy were scrapped; programs that big polluting industries were putting in place were scrapped as there was no mandate to cut emissions anymore; we have all but abandoned our commitment to Kyoto - a treaty that we had a hand in starting; we derailed talks at a climate conference in Kenya where we were chair; and then the Clean Air Act came out. This "Made in Canada" solution was made in the rooms of the White House. No meaningful reductions; legislation that already exists if properly enforced; this was an insult to Canadians in the worst possible way.
I consider that moment to be the turning point. In a country, where a recent survey indicated climate change to be the most important issue facing Canadians - this government delivered a stink bomb. Fast forward to December 2006 and the Federal Liberal Leadership convention in Montreal. A Liberal party that suffered a rude awakening when the electorate voted against their recent ways that included scandals upon scandals. The results were in: an underdog, running on a green dominated agenda rocked the Canadian political landscape by winning the leadership convention from not only the front runners but the hand-picked leader by old school liberals. Stephane Dion, who as Environment minister manufactured one of Canada's greatest moments in Environmental stewardship, just became leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
It is with that - that I look towards 2007. We will have another election this year in Canada and unlike the last election - the environment will not only be an issue - it will be front and centre. A far cry from only a year ago where not one environment question was asked during the leadership debates.
I do not know if Stephane Dion is the political saviour for the environment here in Canada. What I do know is that environmental discussion will now happen not only in homes across the country but on television, on newspapers, in election ads and so on. It will be, in 2007, something that Canadians will be talking about and that is all we can hope for. Recently, I was asked at my place of employment on how we could be a more green company. The end result to me is secondary to the fact that the question was even asked. This is a reflection of the work of many people across this country who have dedicated themselves to raising awareness and educating the public on issues that impact all our lives.
As for me, I will be voting for Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada. She has shown that she is interested in promoting the environmental agenda above all things and those are the people that need to lead this country (in this author's humble opinion). "How's the weather?" has taken on a whole new meaning and in 2007 - I hope to see everyone take notice.