17 April 2011

Where Does Climate Change Go During Election Campaigns?

Here in Canada, we're in the midst of a federal election campaign, brought about by a conservative minority government that doesn't give a damn about the electorate, and a prime minister who has become a tyrant.

Now, I'm a bit of a language nut, I'll admit, but "tyrant" comes from the Greek tyrannos meaning "lord, master, sovereign, absolute ruler" — whereas "prime minister" literally means "first servant." Does anyone else see the problem here? Indeed, Rousseau explained that "in the exact sense, a tyrant is an individual who arrogates to himself the royal authority without having a right to it." Yup, that about explains our PM.

Okay, on to the topic at hand. The other day, our community hosted an All Candidates Meeting, and all four candidates showed up. It was a rather sedate affair for the most part (the moderator had asked, in the interests of time, that we not get too fired up and start applauding all over the place). But the strangest part was the complete and utter lack of talk about climate change.

Our incumbent conservative candidate certainly said nothing about climate change (his boss wouldn't let him). From the liberal candidate who is a climate scientist, we heard nothing about climate change. From a left-wing First Nations candidate, we heard nothing about climate change. Even from our favourite Green Party candidate who has written a book on climate change, still we heard nothing about climate change. Did I mention that climate change just didn't come up?

So, I've realized, political candidates only bring up topics they think the voters want to hear about. And of course, even though we should care about the mother of all topics (after all, which other "topic" is threatening the survival of most life on the planet?), we've been convinced by the silence of our politicians that it's not a topic of importance.

Just because our candidates don't talk about it doesn't mean climate change has gone away, folks. Politics in my country has made itself irrelevant — but very dangerous.

Just attended an early Earth Day rally with our Green MP, Elizabeth May (fantastic candidate, by the way!). I explained my concern to her and she assured me that climate change has come up in subsequent candidate debates. She also told me that in a recent TV interview, her whole segment on the climate crisis was edited out. So, I guess that along with a contemptuous prime minister, we also have censoring media here in this country I used to feel so proud of.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?