BLOG: A Canadian collaborating with a climate elephant

A Canadian collaborating with a climate elephant

by Cathy Lacroix, CCL Toronto leader

I am a climate-concerned citizen and  I have been lobbying the Canadian Parliament and the US Congress for a revenue-neutral carbon tax with Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) since November 2013. This quote from  a former Canadian Prime Minister illustrates why I lobby on both sides of the border.  Addressing the Washington Press Club in March 1969, future Prime Minister Pierre Eliot Trudeau famously said this about the USA:

“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

It so happened that the day before I headed to Washington DC to lobby with CCL last June, our own Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the honourable Catherine McKenna, participated in a Climate Change Town Hall in Toronto.  I had a moment to speak to her there so I asked if there was any message she’d like us to bring to the Americans in government.  Her entire demeanor changed from upright and confident to slumped and dejected as she expressed dismay at how dysfunctional the US government had been on climate issues.  So – no message.

Then, at the CCL conference, the role of the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus  was highlighted.   CCL revealed the motherlode of American politicians working constructively to find climate solutions. Even more, our organization had actually  been  instrumental in forming  this Caucus, thanks to the efforts of CCL volunteers like Jay Butera.  On lobbying day last June,  900 or so volunteers fanned out on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and we helped promote the growth of this Bi-Partisan Climate Solutions Caucus.

When I returned home to Toronto, I attended several other Climate Change Town Halls where I always approached the hosting MPs with the request  that they ask Catherine  McKenna to meet with the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.   I have no way of knowing if the message was passed on but no such meeting took place.

Undaunted, I looked through my notes from DC and found the information with contact info for the Caucus.  The person I emailed works in the office of one of the Bi-Partisan Climate Caucus members. Of course, I introduced myself as a Canadian CCL member. Then, I thought it prudent, gave a brief primer on Canadian government and the recent climate action developments here.  The hope I expressed was that Canada and the US would try to work together.  Would it be possible for the Caucus to invite Ms McKenna to address them?

I believe that CCL membership may have opened another door.  My contact emailed back immediately.  Depending on everybody’s schedules, Ms McKenna may soon receive an invitation to address an influential elected group in Washington that is serious about climate solutions.

Be respectful, cultivate relationships, be prepared, express sincere gratitude,  be persistent,  look for opportunities, then ask and you shall receive!