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Letter: Think of climate when you vote, Squamish

'We’re living in a region with huge climate risks, and that’s why, with a federal election underway, it’s so important to elect a true climate champion to represent the Sea to Sky Corridor.'
Election canada
Think of climate when you vote, says letter writer.
It would be hard to come out of this past summer in the Sea to Sky Corridor not worried about climate change. We spent nearly the entire summer without a drop of rain, weathered near 50ºC temperatures back in early July, and all collectively held our breath when wildfires ignited on Cloudburst Mountain, near Woodfibre and across Garibaldi Park in the Pitt River valley.

We’re living in a region with huge climate risks, and that’s why, with a federal election underway, it’s so important to elect a true climate champion to represent the Sea to Sky Corridor.

Tackling the climate emergency in Canada requires us to do two fundamental things. First, to put a moratorium on the construction of fossil fuel expansion projects.

This isn’t a radical demand. In fact, it’s exactly what the International Energy Agency said we need to do in their recent analysis of pathways to reach net-zero emissions. Second, we need to implement a just transition that leaves no one behind. That means putting in place bold policies to create zero-carbon jobs and support workers and communities impacted by the move away from fossil fuels.

With this baseline, it’s clear that neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives have climate plans that meet the scale of this crisis.

The Conservative plan is based on meeting Stephen Harper’s woefully low climate targets, and the Liberal plan has both failed to reduce emissions and remains unclear on how they’ll address Canada’s soaring gas emissions.

This latter point is made worse by the Liberals’ record on fossil fuel expansion, having given $18 billion to Big Oil in 2020, greenlit a handful of new oil and gas developments, and bought the Trans Mountain pipeline. That means here in the Sea to Sky Corridor we have two options, NDP candidate Avi Lewis and Green candidate Mike Simpson. But, for one of them to win, climate voters need to rally behind the champion who can carry the riding. And, in 2021, that candidate is Avi Lewis.

Looking at past results, polls and projections, it’s clear that when the NDP and the Green Party split votes in our riding, Liberals and Conservatives win.

There are more progressives and climate voters in this riding than not, but with those voters split between the NDP, the Greens and some voting Liberal, it divides the climate vote and helps climate delayers and deniers stay in office.

And, while I’m sure Patrick Weiler believes in climate change and earnestly wants to take action on it, he’s been in office for two years and is the member of a party that has failed to seriously reduce Canada’s emissions, making us the worst country in the G7 when it comes to climate action.

On the flip side, Lewis is about as vocal and bold a climate champion as anyone could hope for, having pledged to go above and beyond the NDP platform which, while not perfect, is still dramatically more ambitious than the Liberal climate plan.

Simpson is also strong on climate, but with him and the Greens running in fourth, he doesn’t really have a shot at carrying the riding.

But, the Green candidate could take enough votes away from Lewis to make the riding a race between Weiler and Conservative John Weston, helping to prop up Canada’s dangerous climate status quo.

That means, in 2021, for Simpson to truly lead on climate, he might need to do something few politicians are willing to do and put the public good ahead of partisan politics. In this case, that would mean throwing his support behind Lewis to help unify the climate vote and defeat the politics of climate delay and climate denial we see in the Liberal and Conservative parties.

Like many people, I wish that we didn’t have to think about voting strategically. But, since Justin Trudeau broke his 2015 promise to bring in proportional representation, it’s a reality of our unfair political system. And, after a summer that really reminded us how dire the climate crisis is, and how little time we have to act, we need to unite the climate vote behind a single champion.

Cam Fenton

Editor’s note: Fenton is the communications manager for climate advocacy organization

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