US to Canada: We don’t want yer kind here
Yer kind of shamelessly dirty oil, anyways.
This is the first time in my life I can recall Americans looking like a shining example of leadership and responsibility compared to us. When I was growing up our grade school teachers would endlessly pontificate on our national reputation: honourable, polite and neighbourly. We were peacekeepers, stewards of our land, and distributors of universal healthcare. Ask anyone, they would say, and they can tell you of Canada’s stellar track record and may even get down to kiss your feet, although being Canadian, you are too modest to let them.
Perhaps the last eight years allowed our egos to inflate, as well. The Michael Moore school of thinking did a lot to salute our nation, and during the Bush administration you could hear many a liberally-minded citizen from Oregon or Connecticut (and even some out of West Virginia) dreaming about the sunny, socialist shores of Canada. But either the rose coloured glasses were trampled under Obama’s inauguration parade or our southern neighbours were never really wearing them. All I know is, now they’re worried about us getting in the way of their actions to reduce climate change, and I don’t blame them.
Today Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in Washington trying to ride Obama’s coattails before a potential election. He is also battering our already-bruised reputation by pushing the Alberta Tar Sands to be excluded from any effective climate change reduction plans they come up with (and yes, isn’t he already on his fourth plan anyway?) The tar sands industry is the fastest growing greenhouse gas polluter in Canada, spewing more than many European countries, and Harper is not only looking to sustain this industry, but grow it.
Plenty of Americans now think it is we who will hinder them during the global climate change discussions, prompting the American-based Rainforest Action Network to string a banner across a Niagara Falls bridge kindly asking Harper to get lost.
It’s a shift in perspective, really. A few years ago Harper was faired poorly on climate change action, but he was still no Bush. Well, fast forward and he’s that much farther from Obama. Seemingly overnight the American national standard has changed and their Bob the Builder attitude combined with the charm that literally oozes out of Obama means they are easily becoming the North American leaders on climate change. What remains to be seen is if we will end up looking uneducated and manipulated by industry, declaring climate change to be a myth along with UFO’s and unicorns, or if Harper can leave his personal views at home and do what his country, and the rest of the world, need him to.
Check out the parody of Harper’s ‘Just Visiting’ ads by Environmental Defence.
While you’re there, be sure to send Harper a letter that’s politely-worded, but stills tells him exactly what you think of how he should be acting in Washington. ‘Cause we’re paying attention eh?
With less than 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