PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA FEDERAL ELECTION 2019
An estimated 65 people gathered at the Active Living Centre in Huntsville on Sunday evening to listen to members of the Green Party talk about the importance of the upcoming federal election.
Green Party of Ontario leader, and the first Green Member of Provincial Parliament, Mike Schreiner, and former Parry Sound-Muskoka Green provincial candidate, Matt Richter, urged those present to elect a Green Member of Parliament to represent this riding in Ottawa.
Climate change is real: Miller
Gord Miller, the Green federal candidate running for the Parry Sound-Muskoka riding, was the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario for 15 years and told those present that this election, unlike any other, is urgent because climate change is real.
He said while the Green platform is comprehensive and fully costed, climate change remains the pressing issue that frames everything else, and time is running out.
“There are some things you have to know about the climate emergency. There are some things that have to be clear. It comes down to three words: real, serious and urgent,” said Miller. “The climate urgency is the dominating factor, it frames all the other stuff… it is the dominant issue of our time.”
He spoke of flooding in Huntsville and Bracebridge, forest fires in Parry Sound and Northern Ontario, and reminded those present to also look at the big picture. “It’s not just fires and floods in Huntsville and Bracebridge and Parry Sound, there’s massive fires in the Amazon, in Madagascar, in the Congo, through Africa. There’s massive fires going on throughout the world… these fires are occurring in rainforests, think about that,” he told those present. “That’s a really wet forest that doesn’t normally burn.”
He said climate change is profoundly impacting the planet. He spoke of thousands of people dying from heat exposure due to heatwaves in Europe, in the Middle East, and Asia “where the temperature is getting intolerable for long periods of time. This is reality. This is happening now.”
Miller referred to findings by the science-based North American Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that tracked temperatures in July 2019 as being the hottest on record.
He spoke of hurricane Dorian and said while many may argue that you can’t blame a hurricane on climate change, “that hurricane, which devastated the Bahamas, was fed by the hottest water in the Caribbean that’s ever been recorded.” Water levels are rising and causing unprecedented flooding.
The Atlantic Ocean has had five category five hurricanes in the past four years, compared to 35 in the last one hundred years, said Miller. “So the reality is the world has changed. It is real, it is something we are experiencing now, and it’s serious.”
Miller said 80 per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is dead as a result of climate change. Sockeye Salmon fisheries in Alaska are collapsing because rivers and streams are too warm. He said the centre of the United States, the breadbasket of North America, has had long periods of heavy rains which have impacted the production of food. “As a result, in that breadbasket, that centre of the earth where they grow all that grain, 19 million acres were not planted this year… those are profound changes that economically, and socially affect and threaten our very existence.”
Insurance companies are increasingly backing out of providing coverage to areas impacted by flooding. “There are portions of the City of Toronto that are so prone to storm sewer back-ups and flooding that you can’t get home insurance. If you can’t get insurance, you can’t do business. If you can’t get insurance, you can’t get a mortgage. If you can’t get a mortgage, you can’t sell your home… it threatens the very economic structure of where we live,” he said.
“The countries of the world got together in 1992 and they signed an agreement,” Miller said, referring to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. “And for 26 years they’ve been meeting,” he said. “Elizabeth May has been to every single one. I think that she’s the only person on earth that’s been to every one.”
In 2015, when the nations met in Paris, an agreement was signed after 20 years of negotiations, said Miller, in which an agreement was made to keep the increase in global average temperatures well below two degrees Celcius (above pre-industrial levels), and to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to substantialy reduce the risks and effects of climate change. “And 197 nations signed that agreement, including the United States, including China… to this day, 185 nations have ratified [it].”
Time is running out
He said Canada has 11 years to honour its commitment to lower its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent, below 2005 levels. “By 2050 the world is supposed to be neutral on carbon emissions. That means no internal combustion engines or if there are, they have to be mechanisms that trap carbon, capture carbon… this is a serious business, it’s serious and it’s urgent because the timelines are so incredibly short… and what have we done? Just about nothing,” he told those present.
“We have to get off fossil fuel, I know it’s not easy, but we have to do it.” Miller said it would require a major societal transformation – but it wouldn’t be the first time. “We turned the entire North American economy into a war machine. They didn’t make any cars and they didn’t make any refrigerators. We didn’t make any stoves or appliances… we transformed the entire economy of North America in two years, in 1943.”
While war is not what Miller had in mind, he did note that social and economic transformations are possible when faced with adversity, like climate change.
“You think we can’t solve this problem? We can’t transform our economy? Of course, we can. It’s entirely possible, you just have to have the will and we have to have a will in Parliament,” said Miller, who admittedly is not from the riding. He’s building a house in Bracebridge and said he’s applying for the job to become this area’s Member of Parliament because he has the will and experience.
Greens need a voice at the table
“The Parliament that sits between 2019 and 2023 has to change the way this country is operating or there is no hope for us in 2050, and we will just have to sit back and ride this one out to the catastrophic end.” He said working together to solve the crisis is achievable. “But it’s only achievable if we change the composition of Parliament and we put Green members who know how Parliament works in Parliament to make sure this change begins to happen.”
You can find out more about Miller at this link. Below: Miller talking to those gathered at the Active Living Centre on Sunday.
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