Speech From the Throne (September 27, 2020)

Good Sunday Morning!

And we’re off!!!

To three important campaigns… In BC to ensure the election of a lot more Green MLA’s on October 24…

In Toronto Centre, to support Green candidate Annamie Paul in the October 26 by-election (to replace former Liberal MP Bill Morneau).

And on-line, for Greens across Canada, we are now voting for the next leader!

If you are a GPC member, check your emails. Yesterday, you should have received an email with this subject line: GPC Leadership Contest 2020 / Course à la chefferie du PVC 2020

That email links to your personal ballot and individual password to allow you to vote. This is a close contest with eight candidates.  They are offering radically different visions for the party. Please do NOT sit this one out!  Every vote will count and every Green should vote.

Please remind your friends. Voting ends on October 3. If your membership has lapsed, you can renew and get your ballot by October 2.

To improve chances of a good Sunday morning, here is some surprising and promising news on the climate front.

At the UN General Assembly last week, Xi Jinping, president of the Peoples Republic of China, announced a significant improvement to its climate goal. Up until now, under Paris, China had committed to making sure its emissions would peak and start declining by 2030.  Now, China has committed to being carbon neutral by 2060.

China is currently the world’s largest polluter, although that does not mean it is primarily responsible for the climate crisis.  The emissions from many decades are still exerting a warming force in the atmosphere, so the United States, formerly the world’s largest polluter, and other industrialized countries bear a large burden of responsibility.

This announcement is being greeted as huge news. According to Climate Action Tracker, the target, if met, should reduce the expected increase in global average temperatures by 0.2-0.3C.  That is not enough to hold global average temperature to no more than 1.5 degrees, but it is very significant.

What has Canada done? Well, our emissions are still climbing.  While most of Europe is well below 1990 levels, as much as 40% below 1990 levels, Canada’s emissions went up again in the last year for which we have records- 2018. We are now 21% above 1990 levels.

This week’s Speech from the Throne (SFT) again committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, without setting a steep target for 2030.  We will never get to carbon neutrality by 2050 with our current weak target. The SFT pledges to “immediately bring forward a plan to exceed Canada’s 2030 climate goal.”

This is very vague. Bear in mind, Canada’s 2030 goal – 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 – is the one left behind by Harper, representing the third time he weakened the target.  It is appalling that in 2020, we still have a Stephen Harper climate target. So, is “exceeding” our climate goal 32% or what is needed – 60%.

And “immediately”?  I know it is only four days later, but what I hear Minister Wilkinson talk about is sometime before the end of the year.

Many commentators pressed the notion that it was too early to really attack the climate crisis in the SFT as we were still not out of the woods on COVID. At the Union of BC Municipalities meeting, Margaret Atwood joined by zoom.  When asked what she thought of the idea that the pandemic had pushed climate to the back burner, she retorted, “I don’t know about you, but my stove has two front burners.”

There is a LOT to absorb from the SFT.  Many previous commitments were recycled- living up to UNDRIP, acting on safe drinking water in indigenous communities, tree planting, and reforms of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Guaranteed Livable Income was disappointingly not included. There were promises for pharmacare, but looking like a very slow process to get there. Some nice surprises, like a commitment to more local food security, and national standards for long term care homes.  Some exciting ideas around public housing and a few mentions to almost every issue you can think of!  I am including a link to the whole text. https://www.canada.ca/en/privy-council/campaigns/speech-throne/2020/stronger-resilient-canada.html

We are now debating it in Parliament – both in person and at a distance. I am very happy to report that all parties finally got together and agreed that we can vote from our ridings and not crowd into the House of Commons. In fact, with both Paul Manly and me in Ottawa this week, only one of us is allowed in the House at a time.  Good reason to get home and start campaigning for our wonderful BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau and all the great candidates.

Please do click the links below to see what the Green Caucus was able to contribute in the three days we sat in the House this week.

We have still not decided on how we will vote on the SFT.  There is a lot to like in it, but is there enough on climate to support it?  As a caucus, we work by consensus. We may decide not to vote the same way. We are still considering how we best act in the interest of a habitable planet.

There is no risk of the government falling over the vote. Jagmeet Singh, without ever mentioning climate, has already signaled his caucus will vote confidence in Trudeau’s administration. That gives Trudeau all the votes he needs to remain government.  And frankly, I am very relieved we will not be going into a federal election in a pandemic. John Horgan should be ashamed of himself. But, if he were capable of shame, he would be too shame-faced to go to the polls after pushing through Site C, and fracking and subsidies to LNG, and old growth logging and scuppering our chances for electoral reform and on and on.

Thank goodness BC voters have good options in voting for Green candidates! Go Sonia!

Love and peace –and remember to vote!


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