Letter: Open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan

My eyes are stinging and I can’t go outside.

As you know, B.C. is on fire. (So are many other parts of Canada and the world.) My eyes are stinging and I can’t go outside. Most of August has been like this in Kelowna. It’s the third year in a row that the summer has fizzled out due to a sun-blocking, lung-burning haze.

I know you’re both on the pathway of normalizing this (a “new reality,” said the prime minister; a “new normal,” said the premier). You’re both on the pathway of turning the new normal into a matter of resource allocation to fight the fires. “We have to clear up those lines of flowing resources and ensuring people get what they need, regardless of whether they are in an Indigenous community or a non-Indigenous community.”

That’s completely unacceptable. NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson articulated the truth. “The smoke in the air is such an emblem of the climate change crisis. That the federal Liberals have still failed to regulate any greenhouse gas emission reductions is all that people are talking about on the street. That the air from the forest fires is evidence that stems from climate change and it highlights a lack of action federally.”

What’s required is climate action and all we’re getting is bankrupt excuses. While the province burns, Horgan was asked how he can justify supporting the LNG industry. He answered that B.C. is just 4.5 million people sharing a planet with seven billion others. “We have to be realistic about what our impacts would be,” he said.

This logic tells us that despite the fact that Canada has one of the highest per capita GHG emissions rates in the world and that the world is broken climate-wise, we (a nation of only 36m out of a global 7bn) are not the problem, that no one should look toward us for a solution, and that contrary to reducing emissions, we’d be fine with increasing them.

That logic plays out every day. We’re nowhere close to meeting Stephen Harper’s basement-level emissions reduction targets. When Donald Trump demolishes a carbon tax, we meet him on the way down. Instead of investing in a new green economy, we buy a pipeline. There’s no daylight between any of you. You behave like there’s no tomorrow, and I’m finally feeling scared. I think the only answer as to why you continue adding fuel to the fire is that there’s no point not to. Is that what you know that we don’t? That it’s over, that we’re finished, that we have at best a dance or two left before the ship sinks?

Dianne Varga


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