As readers know, Sustainable Orillia has now, for over three years, been sharing tips and ideas on how to make our lives more sustainable here in Orillia (and elsewhere, too, we hope). From time to time, we have also advocated for political action—for people to raise their voices to tell our political leaders in all jurisdictions that action on the climate crisis is a priority for you.
On June 2 Ontario voters will be voting for a new government, one that will take us from 2022 to 2026. As many of you will know, the government of Canada has pledged to reduce Canadian carbon emissions by 40-45% by 2030. This is an aggressive target, and with Ontario representing not only 40% of the country’s population, but also 47% of its manufacturing, there is an urgent need for Ontario’s people, businesses and industries to take aggressive action if Canada as a whole is going to meet this target. If Ontario does not do its part, it is very hard to see how Canada can do so.
That reality means that this election of 2022 is crucial if action to cope with climate change is going to be successful. Note that the increase in floods, fires and drought in Canada and elsewhere are signalling very clearly what the future might look like if we are not successful. Many scientists are using the word “catastrophic” to describe the outcome if we fail to do what is needed.
In the leadup to election day, there is no shortage of issues on people’s minds: long-term care (after the high death toll in our institutions), inflation, affordable housing, education, and healthcare (with nurses and hospital staff pushed to exhaustion during the pandemic, there are real concerns here). The Ford government is also betting that promising to build more roads and housing developments will win approval from the electorate.
All of these are serious issues for governments to try to deal with. There is no doubt about that. The problem for voters—and for us all—is that the climate crisis, if allowed to worsen, will also make these other problems even worse.
Heat waves and sudden storms can be deadly for the elderly as we saw in B.C. Floods and fires force people out of their homes putting housing pressure on the towns and cities they go to. Violent storms can disrupt electrical lines, cutting power to vulnerable people.
We are told that we can expect more pandemics and other health issues in the future as the planet warms up–with huge consequences for our healthcare system. We’ve seen the disruption in education that the pandemic has caused. As for agriculture, we are witnessing drought across much of the food-growing areas of North America, endangering our food supply, not only on this continent but around the world.
How long will we continue to ignore this existential threat to us and our future? How long will we allow our governments—our supposed “leaders”—to ignore the elephant, not just in the room this time, but in the entire province and country? The climate crisis IS that elephant.
Sustainable Orillia is not going to tell you “who” to vote for. But we do think our position in this community should allow us to at least suggest “what” to vote for—and that’s action to address the climate crisis.
Look closely at what Ontario’s parties are promising to do—at their policies. If you see little or no mention of climate change in a party’s policies, that party does not deserve your vote. Look at the attitudes and concerns of local candidates. Challenge them. Are they concerned about this issue? Will they push for action?
It’s 2022. The government elected on June 2 will be making decisions for the next four years, decisions that will affect you and your children—and their children—either positively or negatively. This year’s election is literally a matter of life and death.
Please choose well.