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BLOG (Cathy Orlando): Keep Calm and Price Carbon, Canada

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
the CCL members present at the Liberal Senate Caucus Wednesday, November 26,2014: Ken Johnson, Penny Henderson, Cathy Orlando, Sharon Howarth, Anita Payne and Tom Cullen.
the CCL members present at the Liberal Senate Caucus Wednesday, November 26,2014: Ken Johnson, Penny Henderson, Cathy Orlando, Sharon Howarth, Anita Payne and Tom Cullen.

An Environics Poll released November 28, 2014 revealed that 78% of Canadians fear for the kind of legacy climate change will leave for future generations.

I began to fear for the future on February 16, 2007, when I heard the conclusions of the fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The IPCC said the world was going to be a difficult place in which to live in 40 years if humanity stayed the course of carbon dioxide emissions. I was 40 years old and pregnant. In that moment, I made a promise to my unborn daughter that I would do whatever I could to make sure that her world would not be falling apart when she was 40 years old.

I trained with Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project in April 2008 in Montreal. In a subsequent Climate Reality training session in Nashville in May 2010, Marshall Saunders, the founder and president of Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL), thinking that I was US citizen,  recruited me to CCL. After hearing Mark Reynolds, CCL’s executive director, on an introduction to CCL teleconference call,  I decided to put all my eggs in the CCL basket. An unexpected side benefit of joining was that CCL almost instantly cured my climate trauma – which is post-traumatic stress disorder for climate activists.

I am full of well-founded hope for the future because from November 22-26, 2014, I was in Ottawa at the second annual Canadian CCL conference and lobbying days. For two days, experts and dedicated citizens prepared 68 volunteers to lobby the Canadian Parliament for carbon fee and dividend. Over three days we shared the  economic evidence that carbon fee and dividend will lower Canada’s CO2 emissions and create jobs with 43 parliamentarians.

On Saturday, November 22 Canadian CCL volunteers Christine Penner-Polle (Red Lake ON), Gerry Labelle (Azilda ON), Val Blab (Red Lake ON) and Robert Haw (Pasadena CA) presented strategies on how to grow CCL in 2015. Yannick Trottier (Mississauga ON) drilled down with us about how Canada has set itself up to become a world leader on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Mark Reynolds, CCL’s executive director, lead our volunteers through empowering workshops on both Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday, we learned how to communicate effectively to conservative Christians from Dr. Katharine Hayhoe. Michael MacMillan, from Samara Canada, presented to our volunteers anecdotes, observations and insights from 88 exit interviews with former Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum about the practice of politics in Canada.  In the afternoon, I discovered that economics could be entertaining and educational when I witnessed our Economics Panel of Tom Rand, Christopher Ragan,Stewart Elgie, David Robinson and Celine Bak converse about carbon taxes – facilitated by Gerry Labelle.

Over 1,600 people have watched the Sunday portion of our conference online so far which is rather impressive for a Canadian economics and science conference.

Our conference venue, Ottawa City Hall, was donated to us by Ottawa City Councillor David Chernushenko. He welcomed us to Ottawa City Hall and gave our conference participants copies of his relevant documentary Powerful: Energy for Everyone.  The aides to MP Paul Dewar and MP Megan Leslie watched the economics panel.  MP Bruce Hyer spent the afternoon with us and gave closing statements at our conference on Sunday.

Highlights of lobbying for me were climate discussions over lunch in the Parliamentary dining hall with MPs John McKay, Kirsty Duncan, Elizabeth May, Bruce Hyer, their staff and five empowered CCL members; meeting with Senator Grant Mitchell for the fourth November in a row; an NDP breakfast cohosted with my MP Glenn Thibeault (Sudbury); meeting my senator, Marie Charette-Poulin; and then on Wednesday we were invited to an open Liberal Senate Caucus meeting on climate change, and Senator Charette-Poulin gave CCL a gracious and glowing introduction to the guests and senators.

You can listen to the audio of the entire two hour Senate caucus meeting, which included presentations by Tom Rand, Mark Jacobson, James Leaton Julia Gelfand and discussions and questions from the senators and audience at the bottom of this webpage.

At the reception on Monday night, the message was clear from our volunteers: parliament has shifted in attitude towards carbon pricing in the last year. CCL volunteer Liz Armstrong (Erin ON) sent me an email message saying, “Heading into the Christmas season with more hope than I can ever remember!!!”

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe’s approach to the climate crisis speaks to me. If we approach it from fear, we are thinking of ourselves. If we approach it from love we are thinking of others.

I love my children, my country and the inhabitants of this special blue planet that we live on.

Here is more good news: the Environics poll released this week also revealed that 56% of Canadians would support a carbon tax – with 62% of Ontarian and Maritime respondents supporting a carbon tax. 

The solution is staring us right in the face. As the t-shirt says: Keep Calm and Price Carbon, Canada.

Cathy Orlando is National Manager for Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada.


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