Are we ready to be ‘green’ leaders?

During the 2006 federal election campaign, Canadians were challenged to think about our responsibilities for the environment. Jim Harris, the leader of the Green Party at the time, made the environment and global warming the focus of the his party’s platform.
One of the Harris’ platform messages stated, “We can have a Canada that protects our air, soil, and water while developing a strong sustainable economy.” While he was making the case for the environment, the then environment minister, Stephane Dion of the Liberals, was trying to drag Canada kicking and fighting into the Kyoto agreement.
The two leaders on the environment had some success. The Green Party had a major increase in voter popularity, although it failed to elect any candidates to the House of Commons.
Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has shocked people around the world into thinking more about global warming and its impact on coastal cities, as well as the changing weather patterns bringing more severe storms to the world. The film won Gore a Nobel Prize and an Oscar.
The “green” message was gaining a foothold around the world.
Over the past two years, several crises have given Canadians cause for concern. Salmonella poisoning in lettuce and tomatoes, as well as increased fuel costs driving up the cost of imported vegetables, fruit, and meats, have given many cause to rethink “green” ecology and food safety.
District farmers can produce the greatest percentage of vegetables that go into the local food box program. They even can raise all the beef and hogs that residents would require in a year. The reduction of transportation costs would be a “green” benefit, and as consumers we would know who produced our food.
This past summer during the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, anglers who traditionally ran their boats all out cut back on their r.p.m.’s. Instead of running at 60 m.p.h., they ran at 35-40 m.p.h. and greatly reduced their gas consumption. Gas at $1.39 a litre was not popular, and the anglers responded by reducing their fuel consumption.
In urban centres across North America, city transit systems have seen ridership increase by 20 percent as more people abandoned their vehicles for public transportation as the price of oil climbed well past $100 (U.S.) per barrel.
Both the Green Party’s platform and the Liberal Party’s“ Green Shift” call for a change in our taxation system. Taxes would be paid on polluting fossil foods. Every industry would have to pay some sort of carbon tax.
In return, Canadians would see a reduction on personal income taxes and corporate taxes. Both parties claim the end result would cause no change in incomes. We would have to have the confidence to go through a period of taxation change.
Because we would be paying more for gasoline and heating fuels, Canadians would, in all likelihood, create new industries producing new products and jobs that could be sold worldwide.
At our cottage this past year, we have re-insulated and installed energy-efficient windows. The change now makes the cottage cooler in the summer and seems much easier to heat this fall.
Canadians will have to make similar choices in the future to be able to afford to heat their homes in winter and cool them in summer. We will have to make choices about how we get around our communities.
Canadians will have to decide on how they want to create electrical energy. We even may have to make choices on downsizing our homes, or increasing the density of living accommodations in our towns and cities.
During the recent Democratic national convention south of the border, it was projected United States would create five million new “green” jobs by becoming less dependent on fossil fuels and turning to wind, solar, tidal, geo-thermal, and nuclear power.
The question is, “Is Canada ready to be the ‘green’ leaders to the world in developing new forms of energy and new products to reduce our energy consumption?”

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