The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A Message to Ottawa

by Tricia Dower

Good afternoon, Victoria!

Thus began the forty-first of forty-two stops in David Suzuki’s “If YOU were Prime Minister” Tour. About 800 of us (why weren’t there more?) filled a church in town to hear the esteemed biologist say we need a “reconnection” between the concerns of Canadians and what politicians say those concerns are. That everything we use comes from a biosphere that is fixed. That no place in the world is free of toxic air. That our times are providing “the moment that will define what kind of a species we are.”

The audience stood and clapped when Suzuki walked to the podium. We stood and clapped when he finished. There was spontaneous applause throughout his passionate presentation. Although I didn’t hear anyone yell, “Praise the Lord,” the air was full of revival meeting fervour. We loved hearing him tell us we’re on the brink of extinction. But only on the brink, brothers and sisters. This man of science had come to preach about salvation, about the slim chance of survival if we can muster the will to repent and change our rapacious ways. To put ecology above economics. To hold our government to Canada’s responsibility as a Kyoto Accord signatory. “Chretien signed Kyoto as PM, not as a Liberal,” Suzuki said, but Harper has “cast aside an internationally agreed upon treaty.”

Even if our government doesn’t act, we can make a difference as individuals, Suzuki says. He gives us a new set of Ten Commandments:

  1. Reduce home energy use by 10%
  2. Choose an energy-efficient home and appliances
  3. Don’t use pesticides
  4. Eat meat-free meals one day a week
  5. Buy locally grown and produced food
  6. Choose a fuel efficient vehicle
  7. Walk, bike, carpool or take transit
  8. Choose a home close to work or school
  9. Support alternative transportation
  10. Learn more and share with others

If we do all those things, he says, we can slow the rate of global warming and environmental degradation. It seems too easy to be enough — and it is, if only a few people do these things. We need a mass movement.

Suzuki’s website has a place for you to sign up and pledge to do at least three of the ten items on the list. He wants a million names so he can demonstrate to the government that Canadians want the environment at the top of the political agenda.

“If Rick Mercer could get one and a half million Canadians to sign up to change Stockwell Day’s name to Doris Day,” he said, “we can get a million for this.”

Will any of this make a difference? Is it already too late? It was inspiring to hear from someone who isn’t as sceptical as I. After decades of frustration over the destruction of our environment due to ignorance and greed, Dr. David Suzuki still speaks with hope and conviction about our ability to — finally! — use our brains and foresight to save ourselves. That’s worth a round of applause. Visit his site. Take the Nature Challenge and send a message to Ottawa.

Top: Photo of Earth rising over the Moon, taken July 16, 1969, from the Apollo 11 spacecraft; used per NASA guidelines. Inset: Dr. David Suzuki


Anonymous Larry said...


This guy sounds amazing!


Tue Mar 13, 11:37:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks, Larry. David Suzuki is, indeed, amazing. He’s 71 and the energy he projects fills the room. Of course, he’s extremely fit physically. He speaks in the States quite often, I think. Perhaps you’ll have a chance to hear him before California sinks into the Pacific.

Tue Mar 13, 01:59:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

It must have been great to listen to Suzuki. I like the new 10 commandments. And I really liked your reference to religion tucked in there. Great, and informative piece.

For me climate change boils down to the fact that we are pumping millions of tons of krap into the air. This has to have some effect.

Tue Mar 13, 04:44:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Patricia said...

I love David Suzuki. thanks Tricia, I can't believe that people still think this is all propoganda. I think I mentioned before, we put in another recycling bin in our kitchen, the kids were just throwing their recycling in the garbage, we all were I'm sure, and we've more than doubled our recycling, it's doesn't take much to make a difference, and I hate, hate when people say, "it's industry that's doing it, not us..." anyway, thanks Tricia, would have loved to be at this.

Tue Mar 13, 08:30:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

Hey, 7 out of 10 for me (including the car one, since I don't drive). How is this such a difficult list for people to aspire to?

I saw Suzuki give a convocation speech at SFU once, and the place was packed out. But the crowd was full of people who wouldn't normally go see him speak, too.

Thanks for this, Tricia. Great post.

Wed Mar 14, 01:34:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks Steve, Patricia, Tamara. Yeah, it's not that hard to do at least three of the list -- even more if we can stop worshipping cars. Easier said than done.

Wed Mar 14, 02:51:00 am GMT-4  

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