Last Friday, Carolyn and I attended the Calgary Roundtable on Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women. It was held in solidarity and to coincide with the one held in Ottawa. As expected, we heard some powerful and painful stories from deeply hurt and courageous families. There were two honorary witnesses, Police Chief Rick Hanson and Liberal MP and Aboriginal affairs critic Carolyn Bennett. Both gave sensitive and heartfelt responses to the testimonies of the families. Both were there the full afternoon.
Chief Hanson was introduced by Constable Cindy Provost, the designated police liaison officer with the Aboriginal community. She is First Nations and been in this position for 8 years. Each gave emotional tributes to the other for the effective and outstanding contribution each has made to addressing this complex and horrific reality. I felt clearly that the police and supporting agencies in Calgary take seriously this deep wound in our society.
Murdered and missing women is a national shame. Why is our Federal Government so insensitive? When the prime minister says that murdered and missing Aboriginal women is not on the government radar, he insults the women, their families, communities, and indeed all Canadians. He shows astonishing disrespect, if not contempt.
The government’s defensive dismissal of a national inquiry makes one all the more necessary. When I witness the deep and sensitive concern of Calgary’s police chief, it only illustrates how far removed and callous is our Federal Government.
Friday’s event concluded with drumming and round dancing in front of Calgary’s City Hall. The afternoon began with prayer from a Blackfoot elder. In a spirit of healing and hope, I invite us to contact MPs to continue the advocacy for a national inquiry. It is one of the ways to put flesh on the bones of the Apologies governments and churches have made.
My last offering focused on Mr. Harper’s contempt for Parliament, bedrock Canadian institutions, and the Canadian people. Since he so disrespects the institutions he wants to lead, I suggested he should be disqualified from the ballot in the upcoming federal election.
Yet there is a more crucial matter electors face. Climate Change. Of course, Climate Change is deeply connected to Mr. Harper’s contempt and disrespect. I believe that Climate Change is THE embracing reality of all the bewildering and complex issues we face. I believe Climate Change is the most urgent reality facing humankind and our Earthly Home. It demands the very best of the human spirit, intellect, imagination, and hope. It demands a basic change in the way we understand life and view the world. It demands spiritual, political, economic, and social passion, co-operation, and ingenuity on an unprecedented scale.
Therefore, we need to elect a government that will go to Paris in December (the most critical next step in achieving a meaningful Climate Change treaty) committed to joining the rest of the world in seriously and drastically reducing Green House Gases. Major organizations of all sectors agree that intelligent and real measures are needed NOW –from NASA and the World Bank through to the vast majority of scientists numbering in the thousands.
There is even a growing consensus that much of the fossil fuel reserves in the world need to remain in the ground, if we are to avoid unmitigated disaster.
Climate Change is not one issue among many. It is the embracing reality of our time. Also, I believe it is THE spiritual challenge of our time. Climate Change is not only connected to how we relate to and live in Mother Earth, it is connected to obscene inequality, reckless and self indulgent consumption, and human entitlement. Climate Change and all that it impacts, begs the questions: who are we? What are human beings for? How we are to live in healthy relationship with our Earthly Home and all creatures?
This spiritual challenge demands to be reflected in how we vote, and what we demand of our leaders. As citizens, we must ask political parties and their candidates how committed they are to serious and effective action. And what are their policies and programs. Rhetoric, half truths, lies, and platitudes no longer suffice. We need the best in human truth telling, planning, and actions. Instead of sowing division, we need to unite in common cause for the common good of all life.
What an exciting time to be alive!
The year 2015 will bring another Federal election with attack ads, major issues avoided, and surprises for candidates from all parties. I wonder if contempt for Parliament and our democratic institutions will be an issue. Through examples too numerous to mention, the current government and its leader have shown unprecedented contempt for democratic institutions and processes that have been bedrock to Canadian democracy. From attacking the Supreme Court of Canada and its Chief Justice, to the Chief Electoral Officer, to professional scientists, to the people of Canada, even the Globe and Mail (see the December 27, 2014 editorial) names contempt as a major characteristic of our prime minister.
My question is: why should anyone who shows such contempt for Parliament, MPs, and core institutions of government even be allowed on the ballot? Surely respect for the institutions and people a prime minister wants to lead should be a pre-requisite of office. Would a university or corporation hire a president or CEO who despises the people and organization she/he wants to lead? Would they want a leader who dismisses best practices and science-based research in pursuit of rational policies and products?
There are many important issues that need to be debated in the next election. Among them are: Climate Change, energy policy, poverty, growing inequality, day care, health care, recognition of Treaty Obligations and follow up to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, the interdependence of sound economic policy and ecological health, and restoring Canada’s positive role in world affairs. The list is very substantial.
Yet I believe that even more basic and at the core of Canadian democracy and our future, is this fundamental requirement of respect for Parliament, the Supreme Court, public servants, and the Canadian people. The contempt this government has shown should be the most important consideration. Canadians will disagree on the above-mentioned issues. I hope that vigorous public debate will increase. All these concerns deserve the best of consideration, and are debatable in their complexity. But contempt and disrespect is non-debatable.
I hope the Globe and Mail remembers the many articles, columns, stories, and editorials it has hosted, and therefore would find it impossible to support this current government of contempt.
When marking their ballots, I urge Canadians to vote on the basis of the one issue critical to our future as a democracy. Vote for respect, and leave contempt in the dustbin of our history.
The people of Calgary are stunned in the aftermath of the murderous death of five bright, engaging university students. Our partners in the Philippines continue to put their lives on the line for justice in the wake of more extra-judicial killings (executions on human rights workers). People in Central Africa, Ukraine, Syria, to name a few, live in fear of violent death.
This Good Friday takes us into the dark depth of 21 st Century crucifixion. People devoting their lives to building a better world are cut down by the forces of evil violence in its multitude of forms.
For me, the enveloping context of the evil humankind is capable of unleashing is in the violence known as Climate Change. Humankind is literally murdering our Earthly Home.
The growing evidence over the last three decades confirms that we know what we are doing . There are no more excuses for ignorance.
There is no doubt of the complexity of the science and politics of Climate Change. Equally, there is no doubt of its simplicity. The attack on every square kilometre of Mother Earth is without precedent. No place is sacred any more. The rate at which carbon dioxide, methane, and other Green House Gases (GHG) are being pumped into the atmosphere and oceans needs to be radically slowed down.
I have said for many years that Climate Change is a spiritual issue. What are human beings for? How are we to live together? How are we to live together in our earthly home?
These spiritual questions require personal, political, and economic answers.
Thankfully, many individuals, municipalities, organizations of all kinds, and businesses are creatively reducing their ecological footprint and their GHG emissions. But our governments, and many large corporations are totally irresponsible, and bereft of giving any form of leadership. Instead, they give us spin, greenwashing, and even lies.
This Good Friday, I pray for Mother Earth as my species continues to nail her to the Cross of greed, consumption, and violence.
One final note. Calgary airport is completing the longest runway in Canada, to accommodate the world's largest jet planes. Cost: $600 Million. A huge new terminal will join it. We know that air travel is a large contributor to GHG. One of my modest actions is to refuse air travel, except for necessary business and sometimes visiting family. Not much, I know. I know of only two other people who do likewise.
Besides each of us looking at our personal patterns of consumption, it is morally imperative that governments and large corporations become responsible. Our Earthly Home awaits evidence of our love for her.
Travelling with the Beaconsfield Initiative team from Quebec, Bill is learning about mining in the Cordillera region where Canadian companies operate. To keep abreast of their travels, please visit: beaconsfieldinitiative.tumblr.com
Posted by Carolyn Pogue
Although I am discouraged by the slow progress on Climate Change in Durban, I am encouraged by the millions of people around the world who are taking action in their own communities while continuing to pressure their governments for serious political leadership.
I invite you to read Chris Turner's latest book, The Leap, for a hopeful survey of municipalities and organizations around the world who are shifting to renewable energy, thus reducing their greenhouse gas footprint. I invite all of us to examine where we can put our efforts towards shifting to renewable energy. Every community in Canada has possibilties for greening our world.
May 2012 be a year of surprising renewal and hope. When I return from my time in the Philippines, I will have comments to make on Canadian mining practices and corporate responsibility. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who supported my fast in so many different ways throughout Canada.
May the Christ Child of Peace, Resistence and Hope find a place in our hearts.
Today is the last day of my 10 day Fast for Courage. I have gone 10 days without food, but nourished by Carolyn's terrific vegetable broth (and other liquids). We ended the fast in front of the Constituency office of Stephen Harper, and were joined by 10 people, including 2 young people from Occupy Calgary. Former Alderman Bob Hawksworth, who has been with me in spirit throughout the fast, joined us as well.
While I end my fast, Moderator Mardi Tindal and others from the United Church, continue their faithful inter-faith witness in Durban. I ask you to hold her and all interfaith leaders in your prayers as the conference reaches its conclusion.
During the past 10 days, I've been greatly encouraged by the prayers and actions by people throughout Canada. Although our government is ignoring what most Canadians desire, people in every region of Canada are doing what they can in their own communities. In Durban itself, while countries such as United States and China, who are criticized as much as Canada, seek to engage people, our government hides behind closed doors.
Despite our federal government's climate change blinders, I believe there are positive initiatives throughout our country. For example, the city of Calgary is recognized for its renewable energy policies and is a leader in implementation of Kyoto-style commitments. Similarly, Ontario is committed to solar power with their feed-in tariff program. Therefore, while listening to peoples' criticisms of Canada why not tell the story of the good things we are doing?
Regardless of what happens in Durban, I challenge all of us to do whatever each of us can to maintain the necessary pressures for responsible Climate Change and Renewable Energy policies and actions.
I thank everyone for your support during the last 10 days and wish us all a joyous season and renewed energy for 2012.
Today we stood outside MP Michelle Rempel's office. We were glad to be joined by George Melnyk, Susan Stratton, Don and Rosemary Brown.
The news from Durban is not good, nor is it good from Ottawa. Although I talk with some people who deny the human involement in Climate Change, I believe that most Canadians believe we need some fundamental changes in our world view, and therefore, in our actions.
I am reading Chris Turner's book "The Leap." It raises the question - why is it that Norway, Germnay and Denmark are far ahead in understanding the realities of Climate Change and are vigorously pursuing public policies relevant for the 21st century?
Rather than applauding Rex Murphy and the National Post in their attacks on Archbishop Desmond Tutu, it would be well to cut the rhetoric and face realities. There is no reason why Canada cannot be a leader in the transition to renewable energies. We have resources on both side of the equation.