Update – this letters signatories has been updated with more names of movement leaders supporting and joining the Climate Welcome.
On Monday, Justin Trudeau was elected as the next Prime Minister of Canada. During his victory speech, he stressed that the key to his victory was listening to people across Canada throughout the campaign. He said he would be the leader to bring “real action on climate change” forward in Canada. During that speech he talked about the need for a Prime Minister that “respects rights and honours treaties” in its relationship with Indigenous peoples that leads a government that is “ambitious” and “hopeful”. We want to hold him to these words.
The problem with climate change is that we’re fighting against the clock. We know we only have a handful of years left to change the direction on climate that Canada and the world are headed, which means we don’t have time to wait and see what this government will do. We must act now to demand the kind of leadership we know we need to see. That’s why we’re coming together to join the ‘Climate Welcome’ sit-ins from November 5 to 8th at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Ottawa, just weeks before the United Nations climate talks in Paris – a critical litmus test for changing the path Canada has been on. .
We’re going to join hundreds of people from across Canada and sit in to demand a freeze on tar sands expansion and a commitment to a rapid and justice-based transition to a clean energy economy in Canada because, simply put, the tar sands are big enough.
What do we mean when we say they’re big enough? It’s pretty simple. We mean that tens of thousands of treaty violations documented by Indigenous peoples whose traditional territories are being devastated are enough. That the massive open pit mines that are visible from space have done enough damage to the boreal forest and the Athabasca River. That when scientists say that 85% of tar sands need to stay in the ground, the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in this country simply can’t expand. The tar sands are big enough.
Over the past decade, Canada’s environmental regulations have been dismantled and the fossil fuel industry has embedded itself in our democracy. Expansion projects and pipelines have been proposed and approved by captured regulators. The sprawling mines, deep in-situ projects, and proposed pipelines have been pushed in violation of the constitutionally protected inherent and treaty rights of Indigenous Peoples. Oil giants have rewritten laws and charted a course that shackled Canada’s economy to volatile oil prices, helping drive a recession that is impacting the entire country.
It now falls to Prime Minister Trudeau to dig this country out of the hole that we’re in on climate change. When it comes to holes the first rule is: when you’re in one this big, stop digging.
That’s our demand – stop the problem from getting worse so we can figure out a deliberate plan to change the direction this country is headed – away from a 19th century economy and into a new greener economy that is already booming around the the world. We’re asking for no more tar sands expansion, the most reasonable first step to getting Canada on track when it comes to climate change and rebuilding our relationship with First Nations and Metis Indigenous peoples. Each day, participants in the sit-in will provide Trudeau welcome ‘gifts’ of evidence outlining why a freeze on tar sands expansion is needed and how we can achieve a justice based transition to a greener economy and society.
We’re ready to take action, action that risks our arrest, because after nine years of inaction, we don’t have any more time to wait for Prime Minister Trudeau to act. We know the policies on the table right now aren’t enough to get us where we need to go, and that the only way to change this situation is people power.
Don’t get us wrong, Trudeau’s campaign promises are a step in the right direction. He has pledged to overhaul the pipeline review process to include climate impacts, opposed Northern Gateway and committed to end fossil fuels subsidies and invest in green infrastructure. These are all amazing things, and campaign promises that Trudeau needs to keep. He also must understand that action on climate change means freezing expansion in the tar sands and committing to building a justice-based, clean energy economy.
We believe Prime Minister Trudeau can get there – but not without a lot of pressure from people. Afterall, it was only a week ago that we learned that the co-chair of Mr. Trudeau’s campaign was not only working for TransCanada Pipelines, but offering the company advice on how to quickly, and effectively lobby a Liberal government to get the Energy East pipeline built. That’s saying nothing of Trudeau’s support for the Keystone XL pipeline, his unclear stance on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and his, frankly confusing, refusal on to commit to ambitious climate targets on the campaign trail.
Closing his victory speech, Prime Minister Trudeau said in Canada “better is always possible”. Now, it’s time for him to prove if that’s true when it comes to his ambition to tackle climate change. Trudeau must do what his predecessor failed to and come up with a plan that would see Canada meet its global obligations.
We can’t let Canada be on the wrong side of history anymore. Join us in giving the Prime Minister a welcome he won’t be able to ignore.
Clayton Thomas Muller, 350.org
Mark Calzalvara, Council of Canadians
Dominic Champagne, Éric Pineault & Jérôme Dupras- Élan Global
Bilan Arte & Anne-Marie Roy, Canadian Federation of Students
Kiki Wood, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition
Scott Vrooman, Toronto Star Columnist & Comedian
Marie-Josée Béliveau, Mur de Femmes Contre les Oléoducs et les Sables Bitumineux
Eriel Deranger, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
Laura Hamilton, Divest Waterloo
Simon Dalby, Ph.D., CIGI Chair in the Political Economy of Climate Change, Balsillie School of International Affairs -Wilfrid Laurier University
Angela Carter, PhD, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Waterloo University
Tzeporah Berman, BA MES LLD (honoris causa), Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Dan Parker & Lindsay Hughes – Climate Justice Montreal
Monique Hains – Alerte Pétrole Rive Sud
Ron Tremblay, Wolastoqiyik Grand Council
Melina Laboucon-Massimo, Little Buffalo First Nation & Greenpeace Canada
Judy Da Silva, Grassy Narrow Womens’ Drum Group
Pam Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance, Ryerson University (Eel River Bar First Nation),
Chief Arlen Dumas Mathais Colomb Cree Nation
Rueben George Ts’leil Waututh Nation’s Sacred Trust
Dr. Byron Williston, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Laurier University