Liberal Environmental Critic’s Letter to CARP

Dear Members of CARP,

Hello, happy summer, and it is an honour to have the pleasure of writing to you about the environment–one of my key research areas and passions for the last twenty years.

I fundamentally believe in these words of the ‘Declaration of Interdependence’: ‘Our home, planet Earth, is finite…when we compromise the air, the water, the soil and the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present. We are one brief generation in the long march of time, the future is not ours to erase. So where knowledge is limited, we will remember all those who will walk after us and err on the side of caution (David Suzuki Foundation 1992).’ As a result, I believe we all have a role to play in limiting our ecological footprint, and that we need concerted action from the national to the personal level.

Federally, the Government should develop a Green Economy strategy to create a more environmentally sustainable economy-including, greening agriculture, industry, the building sector, transportation, and waste. The Government should also develop a national energy strategy to position Canada to succeed in the global economy. This will require meaningful engagement of all stakeholders, progress in investment in renewable energy, and tough questions about the Government’s management of the oil sands. For example, where is the long-term plan? What action has been taken to regulate the pace and scale of development? What progress has been made to protect air quality, boreal forest ecosystems, and water resources?

Canadians should be highly critical of the Government’s abdication of leadership on issues related to climate change: specifically its performance in meeting international climate commitments, setting science-based emissions-reduction targets, developing incentives for low carbon technologies, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, pricing carbon, and putting in place adaptation measures necessary to respond to the risks of climate change.

The Government should take a lesson from history, negotiate for our children who are not born, and accept moral and intergenerational responsibility. In 1987, Canada was one of the original parties to the Montréal Protocol, largely recognized as the most successful response to a global environmental challenge, and took a leadership role in examining the science underlying ozone depletion and in acting to eliminate its causes.

Every level of government, community, family and individual has a contribution to make to our common future. Individually, Canadians can, for example: undertake an energy audit of their homes; improve their home’s energy performance through landscaping, and reducing air conditioning demands in summer (through ceiling fans and windows); keep their furnaces properly tuned; choose energy-efficient appliances and lighting; buy ‘environmentally friendly’ products; use non-toxic products for cleaning; keep their cars well tuned and tires correctly inflated; reduce driving speed; and bike, carpool, take public transit, or walk.

In closing, as we work in our businesses, communities, and in our homes, we must all ask, ‘Are our actions something my children and grandchildren would be proud of?’, and if not, adjust our behaviour accordingly.

Kirsty Duncan MP
Etobicoke North