BLOG: Courage and Kindness While Lobbying for the Climate – Carole Lavallée

L-R: Tom Cullen, Dr. Elaine Blacklock, Chair MP James Maloney, Carole Lavallée, Judy O’Leary, MP Marc Serré, MP Richard Cannings, MP Kim Rudd, John Stephenson, Laura Sacks, Yannick Trottier, Gerry Labelle, Guy Hanchet,  Sandy Aberdeen

BLOG: Courage and Kindness While Lobbying for the Climate by Carole Lavallée

Like so many other people, I have become increasingly concerned about our warming planet. To do something about this I decided to join the non-partisan, volunteer Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada. In March of this year my very first letter to the editor describing some solutions to our rising greenhouse gases was published. What satisfaction and pride I felt. Little did I know then where my lobbying adventures would bring me.

 

CCL encourages face-to-face meetings between its volunteers and their Member  of Parliament or Senator, something I will admit seems quite daunting.  As part of its annual conference in Ottawa in October of this year, CCL had two full days of lobbying politicians from across all provinces, territories and political parties. Those conference lobbying sessions started a couple of days early for me. Lib. MP  Paul Lefebvre had previous commitments precluding his ability to meet us in the hallowed halls of parliament but he nonetheless met us in his Sudbury riding office. He tweeted on October 24, “ Great to meet members of @CitizensLobbyCa in Sudbury before youth conference in Ottawa! Qu’ils sont les leaders de demain!”

 

In Ottawa, I was placed in groups of four to six people. To shake off the jitters, we carefully prepared our lobby session agenda then off we went to meet our designated MPs and Senators to speak about our common issues related to climate change.  What a thrill it was for me to personally meet with obviously devoted and enthusiastic politicians: Liberal Senator Grant Mitchell, Liberal Mona Fortier and Independent Hunter Tootoo.

 

Indeed, it was the first time a true northerner, i.e., a constituent of Mr. Tootoo joined our lobbying group. Mr. Tootoo’s pleasure in sharing stories about the changing environment with this shy, soft-spoken, young man is evident in his tweet October 24,” It was a pleasure to meet with Gjoa Haven’s Michael and others @CitizenLobbyCa representatives to discuss #climate change in#Nunavut”. “Don’t be a stranger,” he said to Michael, as we ended our 40 minute session.

 

I also participated in a rainy morning breakfast-meeting between a few members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources. It was generously  co-hosted by Vice-Chair NDP Richard Cannings from B.C. and member Lib MP Marc Serré, Nickel Belt riding. Others in attendance from the Standing Comittee were Lib. Chair James Maloney; Cons. MP Ted Falk; Kim Rudd, Parliamentary Secretary to Natural Resources Min. Jim Carr as well as her assistant, Erik Mistral; plus Bernard Nunan, Assistant to Lib. Geng Tan.

 

Ten CCL volunteers from B.C., Alberta and Ontario had the honor of participating in this large lobby sessions:  Sandy Aberdeen, Tom Cullen, Guy Hanchet, Judy O’Leary, Laura Sacks, John Stephenson, Yannick Trottier, and from our Sudbury and Nickel Belt ridings were Gerry Labelle, and Dr. Elaine Blacklock.

 

My role in these meetings varied from time-keeper to welcomer, acknowledger, or presenter of our primary or secondary requests. Some sessions went quite smoothly because we were on the same page in terms of being pro carbon fee and dividend, something CCL has been promoting for ten years. Other times I could feel tension rising as we seemed to push the envelope with a request to redouble efforts to eliminate remaining federal fossil fuel subsidies, a promise in the last political campaign. We understand no political move can be made without considering all factors; our focus is on Canada meeting its Paris Accord commitment to significantly reduce  carbon emissions. We want a livable world for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren.

 

During all sessions I kept thinking, “ Thank goodness all these people have the courage to talk about climate change and its effects openly. Even more important,  thank goodness all are caring enough to put enormous amounts of time and energy into solving the biggest problem facing humankind.” I would never dishonour my grandsons by voting for a party that is not willing to face this head-on.

 

I returned to Sudbury with a mix of emotions: uplifted by the opportunity to participate more fully in the democratic process, crushed by the felt sense of responsibility power places on the shoulders of our politicians. I do not know where this journey of lobbying on behalf of climate change will bring me but this I know for sure: we must thank and support all our politicians for everything they do to help our world transition to clean energy. What they do is not easy and no matter what they do, they get criticized.