Editor, The News:
There’s been a lot of talk about low voter turn-out and we must ask ourselves why so many people have disengaged from politics.
Is it possible that people have averted their eyes because politics so often seem like a slow motion train wreck.
Is it possible that crazy-making decisions by our so-called leaders have left such a bad taste in our mouths that some of us don’t have the strength to watch any more, let alone vote.
Canada’s position on climate change, being expressed in Durban this week, is that we don’t want to be forced to lower our emissions while countries like China and the United States aren’t willing to do likewise.
In Durban, we see small island nations in the Pacific advocating passionately for international agreements on climate change because they’re physically getting swallowed up by the rising oceans.
Rather than showing leadership on this issue, our politicians have decided to play the blame game and try to make other nations look as bad as we are.
It gets worse, though.
While Canada criticizes China for not taking climate change seriously enough, our Prime Minister comes to British Columbia and announces that we should allow a pipeline through our northern first nations’ territories to carry Alberta’s tar sands to our coast.
In this scenario, a steady stream of tanker ships loaded with dirty fuel would then make its way down narrow ocean channels surrounded by pristine coastal forests to be shipped to – you guessed it – China.
The bunker fuel used by tankers is some of the most polluting fossil fuel on the planet, but once a tanker’s in international waters, there are no pesky environmental standards at all. This means that our dirty oil just got a whole lot dirtier by being shipped to China.
Oh, and our northern territories and pristine coastline became exposed to the risk of an oil spill in the process.
Our federal government has subsidized tar sands extraction for many years. Money that could have been used to develop renewable energy sources has instead been used to help multinational corporations mine some of the dirtiest oil on the planet, then clamour for environmentally risky routes to deliver it to refineries.
We’ve even seen federal ministers of the environment acting as salespeople for our tar sands, claiming that these products are ethical, while minimizing the environmental impact.
I know many, many people who want to see a shift toward renewable, green energy. They understand that this transition will be needed sooner or later, that it will create jobs and that our planet and the people on it could be healthier and wealthier because of the switch.
When so many people are ahead of the politicians on an issue like this, you can understand why voting becomes problematic.
Composting, riding a bike to work or hanging up your laundry seem like better options to create the greener world so many of us want.
We need politicians who know how to inspire and lead us.
We need politicians who say what they mean and mean what they say.
We need politicians who look after the best interests of regular people rather than those who donated the most to their campaign.
Until we have such politicians, my guess is that we will see voter turnout continue to decrease.