On February 11, 2022, Rachel Bendayan, MP for the riding of Outremont, invited constituents to meet with Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Steven Guilbeault and express our concern for stronger climate action. Sixteen were in attendance including five members of Pour nos enfants / For Our Kids Montréal.
Guilbeault was asked questions about the upcoming climate plan, on a variety of topics including questions about a Just Transition, more spending on green infrastructure, retraining for fossil fuel workers, climate lawsuits, separating oil and state, fossil fuel subsidies, and using tax incentives to encourage everyday Canadians.
The comparison between COVID-19 and climate change was often brought up. Constituents asked why the government could respond efficiently to the COVID emergency but drags its heels on the climate emergency, which is just as much of a threat to the comfort and safety of Canadians, if not more.
Many constituents expressed their desire to do more and asked the government to take more of a leadership role in helping everyday Canadians visualize what our lives will be in 2050, or even in 2030. We want more transparency, engagement, and accessible information and updates on the government’s progress.
Overall, Minister Guilbeault was responsive; he listened to our questions and respectfully answered them. We were disappointed however with his response to Pour nos enfants member Dr. Geneviève Ferdais’ question about the Larose lawsuit. He responded that the government has to protect itself from these kinds of liabilities. We felt this lacked vision and leadership in a world where children’s rights with respect to the effect of lack of action on the climate crisis have been recognized by different countries.
Last impressions are that, although a good first step, we need to keep pushing the government, in a consistent and persistent way. This was a good introduction to Minister Guilbeault, and we should follow up with suggestions in several weeks on how the government can market the climate crisis to Canadians in a way everyone can understand and engage in.
Our MP Rachel Bendayan arranged and facilitated the event. Members of FOK had been building a relationship with Bendayan over the last two years, urging respectfully but persistently, the need for bolder climate action. Because of our commitment, she has been a strong supporter of the actions of Pour nos enfants/ For Our Kids.
We built this relationship by repeatedly requesting meetings over topics of particular concern, including the proposed Teck oil sands mine in 2020, the climate accountability act (Bill c-12) in 2021 and more recently, a petition for a Just Transition. She also helped us to arrange meetings with ministers on the Environmental Standing Committee which then led to us being able to present the voice of parents across Canada for Bill C-12.
Our long-term dedication has convinced Bendayan of the importance of this issue to parents, and it was this impression which galvanized her to set up a meeting. Overall, we have found that our commitment to maintaining this relationship with her has really helped in presenting opportunities for us to meet with elected officials and voice our concerns.