The postmortem of national elections usually comes after voting day.
But the first reading of the entrails of Election 2019 is already in — at least on the mother of all issues, climate change. It was performed by a pair of public policy soul whisperers, David Suzuki and Stephen Lewis.
The politicians and the media continue to bellyflop on the climate change crisis. Though their rhetoric acknowledges the need to lower the planet’s fossil fuel-induced fever, politicians and the media still have their eyes tightly shut against reality.Suzuki's take.
“It’s clear the media still act as if climate is an issue subservient to the economy. When the Green Agenda was released, the first question was how she [Elizabeth May] will pay for it? It’s a crisis for Christ’s sake, like Japan attacking Pearl Harbour! You have to win regardless of cost, but I am sure the savings will be huge, the opportunities immense. But the fossil fuel industry will have to be shut down.”
...With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the UN now giving humanity just a dozen years to get it right, Suzuki’s mission has taken on a new urgency.
So Suzuki decided to mount up like Don Quixote and take one last tilt at what a lot of people still see as a windmill — the world’s lacklustre response to global warming. Never mind that Suzuki is 83 and well into what he calls the “death zone” in his public speeches. There is a planet to save, and what better time to get your message out than in the middle of a federal election?
...Suzuki simply loves Lewis, a champion of fighting AIDS in Africa and all-round prodigy of humanitarianism. But he also knew that Lewis was 81 and in poor health. Suzuki being Suzuki, he asked anyway. Lewis being Lewis, he agreed.
Though Lewis is mostly known for his political, diplomatic and humanitarian career, he is no slouch on the climate file. Back in 1988, prime minister Brian Mulroney asked him to chair what was up to then the largest gathering in Canada of climatologists, economists, and activists looking into environmental issues.
...And so two of Canada’s iconic octogenarians hit the road with their message, visiting five Canadian cities — Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Their mission was to scare the pants off anything that had pants on the subject of climate change.
...And they tried to reinforce their five-alarm warning that we’re all running out of time, saying that if the best our politicians can do is argue about carbon taxes and pipelines, we will all end up like the citizens of Pompeii after Mount Vesuvius blew. Buried metres under the ashes of our ignorance.
Suzuki and Lewis put it this way in a joint quote:
“The best scientists in the world are telling us we have just a few years to dramatically cut emissions to avoid the most frightening aspects of climate change. Our message to Canadians and political parties is clear: We must work together to put the climate first in this critical election.”Sadly, the message didn't get through. The proof is that either Andrew Scheer or Justin Trudeau with Jagmeet Singh as his sidekick will be forming our next government. Either way that's proof that climate is by no means first in this all-too critical election.
The two warhorses exchanged letters after the dust of their tour settled. Suzuki holed up at his cabin in B.C. with his two daughters and their families. He went fishing but there were no salmon. So they dropped their prawn traps into the water hoping for a shrimp feast. As for the tour and its effect on the election, Suzuki was disappointed and said so in a letter to Lewis:
“Greta [Thunberg] and the huge marches in Montreal, Vancouver and around the world should have been a turning point for governments everywhere. Yet the media act as if it’s all stale news. Hell, I don’t think that any of the media even bothered to cover our events to report what we had said. I am stunned at the vicious attacks on Greta.”
While his friend retreated to his cabin after their tour, Stephen Lewis “boycotted” his computer so that he and his wife Michele could take one of their grandsons to the Stratford Festival over the long weekend. Like Suzuki, Lewis had a faint sense of letdown, acknowledging that “the media paid little attention to the events themselves.”Time For an Uprising.
Suzuki had hoped that the Climate First Tour would be the end of his exertions on behalf of the planet. In reality, he and Lewis are already talking about their next collaboration — taking over Ottawa.
“The other approach I would like to see is continued strikes (another big one is planned for November) and work towards an actual takeover of the Parliamentary buildings by youth. They could then conduct Parliament based on priorities for future generations and make decisions and pass laws to mandate reductions, etc. Of course, it would all be for show,” Suzuki said, “but I think it would be stunning if they forced their way in and acted as if they had the power.”
What else would you expect from a force of nature posing as an octogenarian cruising the shady boulevards of the Death Zone?