Gore has right to speak out on “global” issue

Some people just amaze me. A day after former U.S. vice-president Al Gore called the Harper government’s green plan a “complete and total fraud,” it didn’t take long for critics to rush in and tell Mr. Gore to keep his views to himself. Why? They argue that Gore, as a U.S. citizen, doesn’t have a right to stick his nose in Canadian politics.

I’m sorry, but climate change is a global issue. Everyone has the right to criticize ANY government’s policies on this file. What Canada is doing with the oil sands affects more than just Canadians. This also isn’t a political issue; it’s a moral one, as Gore rightly reminds his audiences whenever he makes his climate-change presentation. Canadians can’t vote for Gore (though I wish we could), so there’s no politics at work here.

I had the opportunity to see Gore give his presentation on Saturday evening at the Hummingbird Centre in downtown Toronto. I was truly impressed and inspired, partly because after nearly 2,000 presentations Gore still puts on a good show. He’s passionate, articulate, eager to take questions and well-equipped to defend his views against the skeptics. After the presentation, many people went across the street to the Hockey Hall of Fame for a cocktail reception. My wife and I hung back (we’re not big on cocktail receptions), but then we noticed Gore head towards the doors. We decided to follow him inside. Turns out he wanted to see the Stanley Cup, which is kept at the Hall of Fame. There were only a few people around him, so we had a chance to say hello and exchange a few words. Gore was at ease, engaged and genuine. A class act.

We’re at a crucial juncture in our lives, and Gore and others with equal commitment and drive should be commended for their service. On that note, I leave you with a little story that David Suzuki shared at a bioenergy conference I attended earlier this month in Hearst, Ontario:

“My daugher Severn is 27 years old, and she’s been an environmental activist ever since she was seven years old. A few months ago she said to me, ‘Dad, I think this is the most exciting time to be alive in all of human history.’ She said this is the moment, in the following months and a few years, we are going to have to make some big decisions. Because if we make the right decisions, or if we fail to make the decisions, it’s going to determine the fate, not only of all human kind, but of countless species of plants and animals. This is the defining moment, she said, when we will decide whether or not we’re going to be a spectacular Flash in the Pan failure, or whether we can step up to the plate and show that we are capable of finding humility, compassion, patience and wisdom to truly find a sustainable path. As I reflected on her comment, I’ve come to the conclusion she’s absolutely right.”

On related matters, I had a story in Sunday’s Toronto Star called “Still Within Our Grasp” about the mounting pressure on Ontario now that the federal government has dropped the ball on its green plan. Ontario is expected to release its own climate plan in the coming weeks, and it will be interesting to see if a serious attempt is made to comply with Kyoto targets on a provincial level. It has become increasingly clear that action here will need to come from a provincial and state level, as federal governments in both Canada and the United States don’t get it. I can only hope that a year from now we’ll have a regime change in both countries and a new path.