Wanted: brave politicians
The Newfoundland and Labrador court has handed down a landmark victory to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence and other sensitive ecosystems. The B.C. Supreme Court has shot down the Taseko mine project that would have destroyed the beautiful and culturally sensitive Fish Lake. Here in Cowichan Valley, it took years of legal wrangling before the courts to stop the dumping of contaminated soil in a populated watershed. Wonderful news indeed! While it may be too early to declare a clear environmental trend in these and other court decisions, these are clearly impressive victories, years in the making and at considerable expense.
The question that we have to ask ourselves at this point is why do we (citizens and environmental organizations) have to keep fighting our own governments in court to make them do the right thing? There are laws and ministerial plans in place that proclaim governments’ commitment and responsibility to “sustainability” and the environment, but do we really have forests, fisheries, oil and gas, and mining operations that truly respect or even understand the intricacies of intact ecosystems? Absolutely not. Why do First Nations have to keep up legal battles to try to get governments to respect their rights and need for basic living requirements? Why are corporations allowed to contravene the rules, then provided government subsidies to ensure their solvency or clean up their mess?
It takes years of hard work and stress, not to mention truckloads of money, much of it citizen donations, to keep up the fight. We keep fighting on a case-by-case basis, fighting for every inch of ground while all around us, our ecosystems are being devastated more quickly than we can protect them.
We shouldn’t have to do this.
We have just witnessed how well governments can respond to a social crisis. If there’s anything positive we can learn from COVID-19, it is that government can act on behalf of the public good, with great speed and buckets of money.
What we need are politicians at all levels who are willing to stand up for citizens, for First Nations rights and for the ecosystems that provide us the very essence of life. Right now, we teeter at the very brink of extinction, not only for much of our biodiversity but for ourselves as well.
Together we can be a powerful force to change the way we perceive our environment and how we live within it, not outside of it. We need to redesign our way of living and our path of collaboration. We need politicians brave enough to stand with us.
CEO Juniper Community Solutions