Dear Mom and Dad,
A few years ago I made a comment on a drive to the cottage stating that, “Stephen Harper is the devil.” Dad quickly commented back that I couldn’t say such a thing without knowing what I was talking about and backing it up with evidence, “you can’t just call someone the devil.” He was right, but in that moment it made me upset because even at the time I had plenty of valid reasons as to why I felt (and still feel) that way, but I couldn’t articulate them as well as I should have been able to.
With the election being, and after just finishing my degree in Environmental Sustainability and Society and International Development, and meeting tons of inspiring and intelligent people along the way, I can now say, with complete certainty, that I was a right…
So, I am sending you my official (long) last word before you go to vote this evening. I did my best to take my information from reliable sources and it got kind of rushed at the end but here it is;
I have narrowed my decision as to why I will not be voting Conservative down to 4 reasons:
1. I care about the environment. Climate Change is happening now.
In the last 150 years (industrial revolution onwards) the world has experienced warming that is more drastic than ever before due to industrial development and population growth. Despite international wake up calls to limit our CO2 emissions, and gradually bring them to a complete halt in order to reduce the impacts of Climate Change, we are currently on track for 3-6 degrees of warming by 2100. Considering the impacts we are seeing now, which are due to the result of 0.85 degrees warming, one can only imagine what the implications of 6 degrees would mean for our Earth.
Climate Change doesn’t mean warming everywhere; it means more extreme and unpredictable weather. Places that are generally wet will get wetter and places that are dry will get dryer, and places in the poles will see the most drastic changes the fastest, which means Canada! Canadians, especially communities in northern regions are feeling the effects of Climate Change in the water they drink, the food they eat and where their homes and public infrastructure stand.
As a family we have traveled to some places that are struggling with the consequences of Climate Change right now (Kenya, Australia, Haida Gwaii), we have connections to these places and we care for the people who live there.
SO, despite all this, why then have the Conservatives:
- Invested billions of dollars annually to subsidize oil companies (the wealthiest corporations in the world) to extract bitumen from the ground, which then needs to be processed using massive amounts of Canada’s precious fresh water to process, at the expense of our rural communities’ (especially First Nations) health and our environment.
- They revoked the protection of navigable lakes, rivers, and tributaries from Bill C-45. Canada had 2.5 million protected waterways and now we have 159 protected by law.
- The Conservative’s 2015 platform regarding the environment does not even use the words Climate Change nor does it talk about investing in green technologies to lower our GHG emissions. Investing in renewable energy is a necessity.
- Cut Funding to hundreds of environmental research groups across the country (Climate Action Network, Environmental Monitoring Systems, Sierra Club, Experimental Lakes Area, The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences etc.).
- Silenced federal and public scientists; since 2006 federal scientists have been under strict restrictions for sharing peer reviewed journals and speaking to the media about their researched evidence. Numerous protests have happened since about “muzzling science” and the “death of evidence”. When the conservatives came into power they marginalized the government body, Office of the National Science Advisor which was created to inform the government with expert, independent advice on environmental policies to the PM. They folded this into Industry Canada and then in 2008 cut the program all together, this cost only 1.5 million a year to run. I have attended many conferences at school where scientists have spoken in panels about how they are not even allowed to communicate with fellow scientists working down the hall from them, some of whom had lost their jobs from speaking out about the censoring of their work.
- 2100 is not far away, I may still be alive, and my kids will be alive, and my grandchildren will be alive. I want them to live in a Canada that is in better shape than ours is now and is taking science based action against Climate Change and environmental degradation.
2. I care about my rights as a woman.
- Showed minuscule recognition for the investigation into the missing and murdered aboriginal women in this country, despite over 40 studies being provided to the federal government on the matter.
- Chose not to attend the National Gender Equality Debate.
- Continuously cut programs and policies that support gender equality for women in Canada.
- Stephen Harper’s views on the Niqab, and the fact that it even became a major issue in this election.
- I do not feel represented in a country run by a conservative government that thinks in such a backwards way as Stephen Harper.
3. I care about my opportunities as a young person in Canada.
- Have cut an incredible amount of social program funding.
- Job opportunities in fields that Claire and I are interested in (environmental science, NGOs, teaching) are extremely low and not valued or funded by the Conservative government.
- Post-secondary education is becoming increasingly impossible to attain for the large majority of Canadian youth due to federal funding cuts. The average Canadian undergrad graduates with $28,000 in debt and medical students with $100,000 in debt. I recognize how fortunate I am to graduate without debt but this is a reality almost all of my friends are dealing with at the moment and I am not finished my post-secondary education career.
- Young Canadians accounted for 50% of net-job losses.
- 42% of Canadians between 20-29 years old still live with their parents, up 15% from 1981. (Neither of us want that!!)
4. I care about human rights, for people within and outside of Canada.
- Created and passed Bill C-51.
- Created a second class of Canadian citizens.
- Closed veteran’s affairs offices.
- Made it more difficult for young people and minorities to vote in Canada (Claire could not vote) with the “fair” elections act.
- Ignored the national cries for investigating murdered and missing aboriginal women
- Continuously failed to properly address the conditions of First Nations reserves in Canada which are completely unacceptable. The life expectancy for white Canadians is currently 79 years for men and 83 for women, for Aboriginal Canadians it is 64 for men and 73 for women, this is not okay and should trouble the conscience of all Canadians.
I know how much both of you care for others (family, organizations, and strangers) and I think the conservative government has underestimated what their target audience is capable of caring about too. The values I have that influenced my decision are largely shaped by things you both have taught me. I will leave you with this quote:
“The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘we’ve always done it this way’.” Grace Hopper