BLOG: A Thank You to All the Unsung Heroes by Cathy Lacroix

A Thank You to All the Unsung Heroes
By Cathy Lacroix, CCL Toronto Downtown

All our members at Citizens’ Climate Lobby are unsung heroes.  We don’t do this work for profit or for glory, we do it because it’s the right thing to do.  We can be part of something that really matters.  I remember hearing Marshall Saunders say that he used to think the important people would take care of the important things.  Apparently, that must make us the important people because our politicians have let us down on the climate issue.  We’re the ones doing the work.

My first experience with CCL was completely a fluke, not the normal step by step process of joining.  I was walking along downtown with some friends when the intrepid Sharon Howarth, who I met during the Occupy movement, ran up to me to say I had to come to a meeting with her, right now, urgently.  I turned to my friends to say, “I’m going with her!”  Now, that could have turned out badly but instead, it was my introduction to an organization that changed my life (for the better).

I was impressed with the thoroughness and organization of the group.  What really impressed me is that nobody asked for money except once a year: during the end of the year fundraising drive.  Most groups I’ve encountered want you to “join” in order to fund their activities rather than to include you in their activities.  CCL actually wants its members to participate.

I’ve been lucky enough to lobby people from across Canada and the US.  I met with people such as my own MPP Glen Murray, the former Minister of the Environment and Climate Change for Ontario; my MP Bill Morneau, the Minister of Finance; Michael Chong MP (smart, knowledgeable on climate and has a backbone); Julie Dabrusin MP (a Liberal who voted with the NDP on a motion against pipelines); Hedy Fry MP; Arthur Potts MPP (very interesting guy), Geoff Regan, the Speaker (who is an alumni of the same university as I am); and both of the Frasers, Colin and Sean, who each have a seat in Nova Scotia.  I’ve also lobbied Chrystia Freeland MP (smart and personable), Dick Cannings MP (delightful and delightfully not aggressively partisan) and really so many more I’ll just stop here with the Canadians.

Well, I’ll add that though they aren’t politicians, I’ve also met with the head of the Climate Change division of Health Canada and with the Energy and Environment policy advisor at the Canadian Embassy in Washington.  I was very impressed with these civil servants who are again, smart, dedicated, unsung heroes

It was a revelation of the power of CCL’s methods to watch the transformation of Michael Chong over a few years.  The first time I met with him he was not on the same page as us.  The meeting was cordial however and he knew that there were several CCLers in his riding.  Over the years, we supported him in his democratic reform bill and just kept lobbying.  My jaw dropped one day when I heard my words come out of his mouth in a speech he made in the House.  What an amazing feeling!  As you know, Michael was the only Conservative leader candidate with a climate plan and that plan sounded very like carbon fee and dividend.

Apart from lobbying, I’ve helped out with the scheduling of lobby meetings at a few conferences.  That’s something that I saw could use a willing worker but more importantly, it’s the sort of puzzle I love to do.  The best way to contribute to CCL is to spot something that could use some effort, then volunteer to be the one to apply that effort.

I stick with CCL because lobbying is FUN.  The institutional wisdom is vast and gladly shared.  The organization is big enough and pushes the right levers to be influential in the right way.  It would be very easy to go down the negative rabbit hole and become completely cynical on this issue.  But this issue changes everything so we can’t afford to let negativity drag us down.  Besides, who is convinced to act by cynicism?  Nobody.  CCL is relentlessly positive because that’s really the only way to succeed.  We can effect change.  We can be part of something that matters.

There’s a lot of work ahead of us this year in Canada.  The frustrating split personality of the current government which supports carbon pricing as well as pipelines needs our attention.  And then there’s the coming debate over climate that we anticipate for the federal election.  We’ll all be putting a lot of effort into protecting carbon pricing in Canada from that political tug-of-war.  My hope is that carbon pricing survives and becomes a stronger policy.  Nationally, we have to decide what kind of people we want to be.  Will Canadians will finally come to realize carbon pricing is a good way to begin the transition to a net zero carbon society?  That is my hope and the reason I work with CCL.

There are others in CCL who have done so much more than I have.  The importance of being part of the CCL group is that we all contribute what we can and frankly, what we want to contribute.  When we’re part of a group, all these bits of effort combine to make something so much more powerful than our individual efforts.  Thank you to all the Unsung Heroes out there.

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