Last Wednesday, Anita Vandenbeld and many youth from the Anita Vandenbeld campaign attended a roundtable co-hosted by the Ottawa-Vanier Federal Liberal and the University of Ottawa Young Liberals. Gerard Kennedy, Liberal Party critic for the Environment led a vibrant and enlightening discussion about Environmental and Water Policy with the 20 or so Young Liberals and a few young-at-heart Liberals.

It was great to see Liberals talking about environmental policy, as the Harper Conservatives throw caution to the wind when it comes to climate change and any form of eco-consciousness, citing conflicts with economic and fiscal policy. As, the Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, so emphatically and wrongfully asserted: "Bill C-311 would have destroyed the Canadian economy". Fact? Absolutely not. There have been three separate reputable studies (that I know about), that in fact, totally disprove his stubborn and narrow-minded hypothesis. Their main points are summarized below with links to the reports:

  • Main point: ANY delay on climate change action would be dangerous and more costly

  • Main point: there are efficient, effective and equitable resources to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies within a global agreement

  • Main point: key economic indicator trajectories are followed under three possible scenarios, and economic growth is predicted in each scenario except for "business as usual" (i.e. inaction on climate change, as is the case for this Regressive Conservative government)

This is exactly the kind of proof and substance that the Liberal Party must use to counteract the myth of the dichotomy between the economy and ecology. The Conservatives have been successful in demonizing environmental policies as having negative effects on the economy - asking the questions,

"Do you want jobs? Do you want to be able to continue to put food on the table, keep your money in your pocket and a roof over your head?"

The Liberal Party of Canada fundamentally opposes the current Conservative government's priorities when it comes to the environment and the way that environmental/climate change policies and legislation are portrayed as antagonistic to jobs, employment, and the economy. In Ottawa West-Nepean we will fight this opinion and give the riding constituents another option, and provide them with a third choice to the question of priorities:

"Do you want a Liberal MP (Anita Vandenbeld) and a Liberal government that offers a BALANCE between the economy and the environment? Do you want positive and effective environmental and climate change legislation that actually enhances and betters the economy?"

The talk around the table was particularly interesting for me as a former YLC/JLC delegate to COP15, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last year that was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Twenty-five or so Young Liberals from across Canada ventured across the Atlantic ocean to participate in the global discussions about what we should collectively do about climate change.

John Baird, the part-time Minister of the Environment, is actually traveling to Cancun for the talks, but all his talking will only add more hot air and set Canada's record back even more. Already, on Day 1 of the conference Canada won all 3 Fossil of the Day Awards and should also have been co-conspirators with Japan on Day 2 for their cooperation on killing further progress of the Kyoto Protocol.

Luckily for us, the Liberal Party is also attending the conference this year as part of the international delegation IFLRY and Gerard Kennedy and the Young Liberals of Canada will be in Cancun to show the rest of the world and the media that Liberals are not just there to criticize; we are there to show that Liberals have quite a different perspective on climate change action - do something - compared to the inaction strategy proposed by people like John Baird. The YLC and Gerard Kennedy are there to collectively represent another option to Canadians and to say that the current government does not represent Canadian opinions and priorities on climate change action.

The Liberal Party is talking seriously about our carbon footprint - we wear size 21 shoes (in terms of tonnes of CO2 emissions/year as a resident), not including travel and energy production! The mantra we are now talking about is sustainable development - whether its looking at the rate of change in the Oil Sands or re-examining the Species At Risk Act, the Liberal Party is set on valuing our natural capital with the goods and services it provides, and making sure that market values reflect not only the practical and economic value, but the innate, emotional and recreational value of nature.

This makes me a very content member of the Liberal Party and happy to be part of a team that is willing to address the important issues, such as climate change, and talk about real solutions.

Follow the great Young Liberal team in Cancun, Mexico: