(First published in The Hamilton Spectator, Aug. 26th, ’21)

Justin Trudeau has called an election.

He wants a pat on the back for his COVID fighting strategies as well as a blessing on his plans for Canada’s economic recovery.

He needs a boot in the butt instead.

When the election announcement was made, there was no mention of climate change — the greatest threat to ever face humankind — by Trudeau, O’Toole, Singh or by the media. Considering the extreme record-breaking weather events happening all over the globe this summer, and the grim just-released IPCC report, this is a most egregious omission

And, so, we must adopt these famous words from the 1976 film Network: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” We don’t have any more time to blame, lament or hesitate. We must speak up. We must demand that climate change be the absolute #1 issue of this campaign and beyond. We must demand our media to keep this in the limelight. We must demand far-reaching and sustained system-wide action. Better mad than sad.

As part of a national “Canada Is Still on Fire” campaign, Hamilton 350, with the support of many other organizations, is sponsoring a mass demonstration at City Hall on Wednesday September 8th at 4 p.m. Please show up. Please bring your extended family and as many friends as possible. Numbers count. Please bring your homemade signs that make it clear how you feel. Please bring your mad.

Justin Trudeau’s climate change record is riddled with contradiction (e.g., declaring a climate emergency but, less than 24 hours later, approving the Trans Mountain pipeline), inexcusable delays (e.g., he committed to the removal of fossil fuel subsidies during his first election) and outright broken promises (e.g., proportional representation that would better enable climate champions from all parties to work together effectively). “Sunny ways” have become heat domes, massive wildfires and more than 800 fatalities.

Most Canadians do not realize how horrible our climate record is.

  • We have missed EVERY GHG reduction target to date. This includes clear goals set at Rio (1992), Kyoto (1997), and Copenhagen (2009). We are also on track to miss our 2030 targets arising from Paris (2015).
  • Our climate pollution between 1990 and 2018 is the worst of all G7 countries. Most of the G7 total emissions have dropped with the U.K. leading the way at an impressive 42%. Canada is the only G7 country whose emissions have risen during this same period … by 21%.
  • Between 2012 and 2019, emissions from Canada’s exported oil, gas and coal skyrocketed 46.43 percent to 954 megatonnes (Mt). This is more than our domestic emissions (730 Mt.) … and we don’t count these exported emissions as part of our overall carbon contribution.

While Canada has undertaken a few concrete and positive steps (e.g., the implementation of a progressive carbon tax), our efforts are the equivalent of sending one fire truck to a multi-alarm fire.

As the accompanying cartoon illustrates, the threat of climate change dwarfs that of COVID. We thus need a significantly expanded version of our COVID response. In an excellent book “A Good War: Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency,” Seth Klein identifies what must be done:

  • Transform government. Establish a Climate Emergency War Cabinet and a Climate Emergency Secretariat in the Prime Minister’s Office
  • Spend what it takes to win. The alternative is unthinkable.
  • Establish multiple crown corporations that spearhead our full and efficient transition to a green economy
  • Immediately remove fossil fuel subsidies and put these funds into our efforts to quickly transition to a green economy.
  • Ban fossil fuel advertising now — not just the fuels themselves, but also the vehicles and heating systems which run on them
  • As per COVID-19, adopt mandatory policies, not voluntary measures.
  • Rally the public at every turn … encourage, cajole, inform.
  • We need to accept the reality that our first-past-the-post voting system results in false majority governments. We need proportional representation to better reflect Canadian concerns and to capitalize on the solid progressive majority that is split across many parties.

In the meantime, let’s hope that this forthcoming election results in another minority government. No one party is responding enough to this emergency. That’s why we must speak up, loudly, persistently and with anger.

Grant Linney lives in Dundas. Trained by Al Gore, he has delivered more than 650 presentations on climate change. He presents “The Politics of a Climate Emergency” on Facebook Live (go to “Grant Linney”) on Tuesday August 31, at 7 p.m. `