David Suzuki: “Sickened” By Canadian Senate Vote Against Environment

When one thinks about people who have had a large impact on the debate surrounding environmental issues only a couple of names come to mind, Al Gore and David Suzuki. I recently had the privilege of meeting one of these men, David Suzuki, at the Vancouver International Film Festival screening of his autobiographical film, Force of Nature and one thing really stuck with me after that evening. Suzuki is a serious man who is extremely proud of his body of work and is not going to allow climate change denialists to tear down that body of work without a fight.

That fighting nature, call it anger if you will, comes out loud and clear in this opinion piece he penned along with Faisal Moola Monday in the Georgia Straight.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper once promised he would never allow the unelected Senate to go against the will of the majority of Members of Parliament and the Canadian public. But with this vote in a Senate stacked by the prime minister, he has done exactly that.

The Act would have committed Canada to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a 25 percent reduction by 2020. Many international scientists agree that these reductions are the least required to prevent dangerous climate change.

But in a near-unprecedented move that flies in the face of democratic traditions and government accountability, Conservative senators killed this modest piece of legislation. At nearly 75 years old, I am sickened to see people my age making such a reckless decision that will affect the lives of today’s young people and generations to come when many of the senators won’t even be around to face the most serious consequences.

When his government was first elected in 2006, Prime Minister Harper told Canadians that “Restoring accountability will be one of the major priorities of our new government. Accountability is what ordinary Canadians, working Canadians, those people who pay their bills, pay their taxes, expect from their political leaders.”

It appears that was just empty rhetoric—especially when it comes to climate change. Our government has dismissed its obligation under the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate change agreement that Canada and 186 countries ratified. Our government has not implemented any substantial policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions and helping Canada join the emerging clean-energy economy, even though Canada is probably more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than any other industrialized country.

With the timing of this vote coming just days before the UN Climate Change conference is set to begin next Monday in Cancun coupled with the anemic results of last year’s meeting in Copenhagen I do not hold high hopes for any substantive progress being made this time around. The problem is, we are running out of time to act.

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