What a difference a year can make. One year ago today Canadians went to the polls, electing a new Conservative government with 36.2% of the vote, the smallest percentage ever won by a first-place party. (The Green Party, as you know, earned 4.5%, which, in a fair electoral system, would mean 14 seats.)
In that election, the environment (also known as “that thing that keeps us alive”) was not an issue that the media or the status quo parties took seriously. It did not play a significant role in any of the televised leaders’ debates, and the winning party didn’t even mention the climate crisis in their election platform once.
Today, the environment is the number one or two issue of importance to Canadians in opinion polls, features prominently in daily news stories and opinion pieces (almost to the point of exhaustion), and Stephen Harper reportedly owns a copy of An Inconvenient Truth.
Last year, it was hard to imagine our archaic electoral system being reformed any time soon. Today, Ontario has the chance to do so as soon as October, which would likely reverberate throughout the country.
Last year, people could still get away with pretending that environmentalism was bad for business. Today, CEOs of some of the largest (and most energy intensive) corporations in America are urging George W. Bush to take action on climate change, which he referred to as a “serious challenge” in his State of the Union address just a few hours ago.
The next federal election could be in less than two months. (I wish our MPs were more willing to work with each other, but here we are.) Let’s make sure we think very carefully about where we want to go from here. Let’s not settle for second best, or the lesser of any evils.
Unlike most reasonable Canadians, I’m looking forward to the next election. If we make the right choices over the next twelve months, just imagine how much better things can be one year from today.