The Green Party of Canada says the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection has the potential to put environmental issues top-of-mind for the general election.
The Greens held a town hall on Saturday at the Beban Park social centre and much of the evening’s program saw candidate Paul Manly and leader Elizabeth May rally supporters with calls for climate action.
May said one of the effects of electing Manly would be that it would force other parties to respond in time for the fall election. She said other parties would be asking themselves, “how do we change our policies, how do we up our game, how do we make sure that when we got to the polls in October 2019 you have a range of parties that demonstrate that they’re committed to what needs to be done? Not what’s politically popular, but what’s necessary.”
Both May and Manly referenced last fall’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that stressed that global warming must be held to no more than 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.
May said Canada should be thinking about what’s possible in shifting from “a fossil fuel economy” to solar, wind and geothermal energy, tidal power and run-of-the-river hydro.
“We are at an exciting moment of possibility because we have everything we need to save ourselves,” May said. “What the IPCC said in their report in October was the only thing we’re missing is something they call political will and I’ll say it’s political courage.”
Manly said current governments are delaying climate action, which he said is not much different from denying climate change. Promoting compact fluorescent light bulbs and low-flow shower heads aren’t enough, he said.
“This is nonsense. I changed my light bulbs decades ago. I’ve done two home energy retrofits…” he said. “I don’t need a lesson on changing my light bulbs anymore. I need you to stop promoting fossil fuels.”
He said what appeals to him about his party’s Vision Green policy document is that it isn’t about a four-year political cycle, but about a sustainable future.
“The future is personal,” he said. “But it’s not just about my children and grandchildren, it’s about all the children; it’s about their future … We can change the economy, but if we mess up the environment, we are in serious trouble. And we are in serious trouble.”
May said she considers herself an MP not just for human constituents, but the ones that can’t vote, including the southern resident killer whales, salmon, eagles, forests and streams. If it’s a battle between life and money, “we have to take the side of life,” she said.
“How, in anyone’s mind, is losing the next election more important than the threat of losing your children’s future forever? If that window closes on holding to 1.5, we don’t get another chance,” she said.