An Open Letter to Prime Minister Chrétien

By Tooker Gomberg and Angela Bischoff, Edmonton, Alberta.

On the occasion of the Prime Minister’s visit to Edmonton Tooker cornered him and delivered this letter about climate change.

Gomberg For Mayor

August 24, 1998

PLEASE NOTE: This afternoon, in Sherwood Park, the following letter was personally presented to Prime Minister Chrétien by Mr. Gomberg. Mr. Gomberg also had the chance to speak briefly with the Prime Minister about the urgency of the Prime Minister taking action to address the problem of Climate Change.

Dear Prime Minister Chrétien:

Welcome to the Edmonton region. As a transplanted Montrealer, I wish you a hearty bienvenue.

I have spent much of my life in Quebec, almost as much time in Alberta, and a few years in the United States. Beyond this continent I have traveled widely across Europe, the Middle Ease, Asia, and Latin America. I am deeply interested in healthy cities. My passion is environmental sustainability.

I would like to share with you a few thoughts I have about our country, and about our future. I know that these are matters of utmost concern to you. If there is anything that keeps this country together it is Canadian appreciation of the exceptional beauty, and bounty of this country’s landscape. I have touched the earth in all provinces and in the north, and wherever I meet with Canadians we talk about the land.

But there is a deep underlying concern as well. Folks are worried about what we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. They want action to better protect the air we breath, the water we drink, and the national parks we all cherish.

I am confident that by involving people in solving problems we can make great strides. Your coming to Edmonton to recognize the good works of volunteers is apt. I have spent my life working with voluntary organizations, and I know that altruism is an immense power. If you could tap into the enthusiasm of Canadians, environmental sustainability could be addressed. Over the past few years our paths have crossed around the issue of climate change.

It may be the issue where you can show your leadership skills. Don’t be surprised to hear from an Albertan who is not afraid to recognize that there is a problem. I know that Albertans, and most Canadians hope that you will boldly address it and not back down.

I urge you to work with cities across the land and come up with attractive plans to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps you could launch a program to renovate Canada. What better to do for the new millenium? Government could partner with business and renovate every older building – improving its energy and water efficiency would not only create employment and protect us from the threat of devastating climate change, it would also help people to save their hard earned dollars. People on fixed incomes would be especially thankful.

Around the world cities are evolving to become more pedestrian, bicycle and transit friendly. Federal programs like the Infrastructure Program could stipulate that municipal project funding be invested in initiatives that help secure a sustainable future. How about a Green Infrastructure Program? As a former Edmonton City Councillor, and currently a candidate for mayor of Edmonton, I have spoken with tens of thousands of Edmontonians. I believe that I have some understanding of what makes this city work, and of people’s aspirations for the future. And I am convinced that there is much room for the Federal and Municipal governments to work together for a sustainable future.

The Saguenay disaster and the Winnipeg flood pulled this country together. The opportunity now is to inspire the country to pull together and find innovative ways to address the grave potential disaster of impending ecological collapse. I hope that we can explore this theme together in the future.

Veuillez, monsieur le premier ministre, croire à l’expression de mes sentiments les meilleurs,

Tooker Gomberg