Do the right thing, no matter what China does
Timing is a funny thing. Just as I am having these apocalyptic realizations that we have very little time to make some mind-bogglingly major changes to industry and how we live our lives, so too is Preston Manning. Yes, that Preston Manning, former leader of the Reform Party of Canada (read: uber conservative).
It seems there is a point that many powerful, or formerly powerful men reach in their careers when they soften, open up to ideas one would never have imagined they could get behind, and look with shining, idealistic eyes to the “younger generation.” Correlating milestones often include becoming a grandfather, having a humbling health scare and/or retiring officially from their political/business careers so these concepts don’t become are a liability as they simply revel in their newly-found sage status.
This may or may not be the case with Mr. Manning. As he said himself to a Bay Street crowd at the Empire Club on Thursday, “Conservation and conservative are very closely linked,” and it seems that in his heart of hearts he truly believes we need to act against climate change. Really, he makes a good point. I know several people from my parents’ generation who have only ever voted for the Conservatives or the Green Party in their entire lives.
While I have had the opportunity to hear many leading thinkers and activists share their position on climate issues, including Ray Anderson, David Suzuki, Bill McKibben, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Hunter Lovins, it is not every day I get to hear a bible-toting, fiscal conservative discuss how the corporate sector needs to step up to the plate to meet our climate change problem head on. So when invited to the Royal York where Mr. Manning was to speak to members of the Empire Club I was delighted. As he began his remarks he braced his audience for what would be a ground-breaking discovery: the market can’t survive without resources, which we are using up at a startling rate.
It’s a good thing I was sitting down.
As much as I take this perspective for granted, Manning brought up some good points. It was not so long ago that Canada drank to the Queen (in this particular case it was only 30 minutes prior, since apparently the Empire Club still does that) and went to war for England, and now we think of ourselves purely as a sovereign nation. A shift in perspective is critical for change to be made, in both the corporate and political sectors, since as Manning pointed out, many still view the market in four boxes: extract, refine, create, consume. Apparently this whole frontier-land notion is hard to shake.
He also pontificated how being revolutionary thinkers runs deep through our ancestry, taking a trip through time to recall how a ragtag group of settlements in the most Northern parts of the Americas would band together as a joint nation between the French and English, creating the second largest country in the world and building the world’s longest rail system to connect this patchwork of a nation.
It is both rare and wonderful to hear unbridled Canadiana from someone who actually means it. This man comes from an era of politics that defined us as a nation, and he maintains a relentless faith in Canadians as a people. When asked about whether or not Canada should wait to act on Climate Change until the bigger producers, like China, commit, Manning unabashedly waxed poetic. “You know I was asked that question before and I said – but isn’t it important to do the right thing? No Matter what the Chinese do, isn’t it important that Canada does the right thing?”
Now someone type it up and send it to Harper. The man’s already received enough correspondence from me.
With three months left to define an international agreement in Copenhagan, young sustainability activists Rebecca McNeil and Darcy Higgins launch Stop Everything, a new column engaging in political strategies for change in tackling the climate crisis. They'll follow the youth climate movement in Canada and others as they work to cap greenhouse gas emissions and change society, and show you ways you can be involved at this most critical juncture.
Find, discuss and learn at: Sustainability is Step One
Photo taken from Red Tory v.3.0