An aboriginal proverb states, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Such an obvious reminder, yet many of us are failing to comprehend the urgency of the environmental crisis. We are running out of time, but we continue to be distracted by transient issues that will have little relevancy even six months from now.
Voters are more inclined to get upset about ferry increases than global warming. Citizens will take to the streets over the HST, not even aware that their government is heavily subsidizing the nuclear power industry. Our inability to truly grasp the catastrophe that we are rapidly heading towards is nothing short of mind boggling. As David Suzuki says, “We’re in a car heading toward a brick wall at 100 miles per hour and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.” It’s time to put on the brakes and vote Green. It is time to vote for your children.
As candidate for the Green party, I am often pressed to speak to local issues that may be of concern to my specific riding. In my neighbourhood of North Burnaby, we have a Chevron refinery that continues to leak gas, oil, and diesel fuel into the Burrard Inlet. It has been responsible for repeated environmental “accidents” for which there are seemingly no consequences. It uses millions of litres of fresh water every day, fouls the air with toxic fumes, and is a geriatric eye-sore that presents a serious hazard if a big earthquake happens.
I would like to see the refinery made criminally accountable for the permanent damage inflicted on the surrounding ecosystem. But that isn’t why I am running for the Green party. This election should not be focused on a myriad of disparate issues pertaining to any particular riding. The scope has to be broadened; the environmental emergency affects everyone, everywhere. What the refinery does in Burnaby affects the ecology of the entire GVRD. Radioactive elements from the nuclear meltdown in Japan are showing up on our shores.
The Green party is the only party with a global mandate, that shares a charter with 72 other countries who are united in working toward protecting the Earth’s natural ecosystems. The Greens are not a one-issue party: Elizabeth May has outlined a comprehensive plan for Canada that includes healthcare, housing, education, and human rights. It supports income splitting for families, lower payroll and income taxes, and imposing higher taxes on polluting industries.
The other political parties talk about the economy, but refuse to comprehend that there can be no “healthy” economy if it exists on a planet that can no longer sustain life. We have a prime minister who has failed to make any serious steps toward curbing greenhouse gases, instead awarding more than $1.4 billion every year in tax subsidies to oil, coal, and gas industries. Stephen Harper believes we can address climate change with nuclear energy, but is silent on the issue of Canada already having nearly two million bundles of nuclear waste sitting in temporary storage. Nuclear power plants around the world generate 14,000 tons of dangerous radioactive waste every year, and not a single scientist can figure out a way to safely dispose of it.
The Green party’s economic plan is opposed to any expansion of nuclear power and aims to phase it out rapidly. It calls for a new energy conservation—using wind, solar, tidal energy—and lobbies for investment in renewable sources which comprise a one-trillion-dollar untapped market. Blue collar work can be turned into green collar jobs. In depressing contrast, Stephen Harper embraces a nuclear future for Canada! Something to celebrate, surely. And the Liberals are no better, supporting tar sands expansion projects and the existing nuclear industry.
We need political leadership that is courageous, forward thinking, and ethical. There is nothing controversial about this. The environment is not a political issue; it is a human crisis. If you are deeply concerned for the fate of this planet you will vote for the party that is determined to make things better. Not just in your riding but everywhere—for everyone.
Adrianne Merlo is the Green candidate for Burnaby-Douglas.