Dead End at Chrétien’s Cabin

By Tooker Gomberg, Montreal, Canada.

Taking climate change to the Prime Minister’s doorstep.

I wish that someone during this election campaign would talk about guns that could actually save lives. The kind of guns that could help resolve our greatest national problem.

I’m talking about caulking guns. They’re one of the simplest tools for saving energy. And it sure would be nice to hear the Prime Minister, now coasting towards re-election, address the most important issue facing this nation: climate change.

Mr. Chrétien made a promise in the Red Book to cut Canada’s emissions by 20%. But rather than dropping, emissions are rising. This while the weather goes wonky and floodwaters recede from Manitoba. Even the giant insurance companies are worrying over climate change.

Climate change is upon us, the scientists say. But surprisingly, addressing the problem won’t be painful. In fact Canada could reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in a manner that creates jobs and stimulates the economy. A recent declaration by three hundred Canadian economists says that substantial reductions in GHG emissions are possible without jeopardizing Canada’s competitive advantage in the international marketplace.

So why does the Prime Minister fiddle while the planet burns?

It must seem easier to capitulate to greedy energy company interests than to invest in a future that would benefit all Canadians. Tough. I thought government was supposed to protect the public good.

Frustrated with the deafening indifference, a group of us decided to try something reasonable. Earlier today we headed up to Shawinigan to deliver a message directly to the Prime Minister. He wasn’t home.

We read a statement to the assembled media about Climate Change, touched on the dangers of nuclear power and decried the lunacy of a plan to import the world’s plutonium for disposal in Canada. Then we pitched our tent. And waited.

Twenty minutes later the local constabulary showed up. They jotted down our names, told us that we were trespassing, and asked us to leave.

Before complying we nailed a list of demands to Mr. Chrétien’s door. Actually we used tape. To wit:

“Mr. Chrétien: It is clear that you can no longer ignore the urgency of the
climate change issue. It is the most important problem we face.
You must act now to:
1. Initiate a comprehensive program to renovate all buildings in Canada to
improve their energy efficiency.
2. Finance support for public transit and bicycle transportation.
3. Ensure an end to urban sprawl.
4. End all subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
For the earth, (our names and phone numbers).”

Prime Minister Chrétien’s house is a small wooden cottage at the end of the road by a lake. Sadly we didn’t notice any solar panels on the roof, nor did it appear that the building had been upgraded for energy efficiency.

From the picture window of Chrétien’s cabin on Lac des Piles, the view of the tree covered hills and the placid lake is soothing. It must give him the impression that all is right with the environment. But that impression is folly. Make no mistake, Mr. Chrétien – your inaction is reckless.

Back at home I glance at my T.V., yearning for a voice that speaks for the earth. Instead the Prime Minister’s commercial keeps popping up: “I want to help create a country where people can dream again” he croons. Yet by his demeanor and his mendacity, all I sense is a terrible nightmare.

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