By Violet MacLeod
Canada used to be an international leader for issues such as climate change.
Megan Leslie says this started changing with a series of bad decisions starting with the withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol in 2011.
Leslie, NDP environment critic and MP for Halifax, lectured at Dalhousie University about environmental issues facing Canadians and the lack of innovative solutions being pursued by government. According to Leslie, “the single most important issue facing the world today is climate change.”
Canada could be a “green energy super power” and an international environmental force, but it has ceased to innovate, Leslie said. She in part attributed this to Dutch Disease. That happens when a nation discovers a natural resource that raises the value of that nation’s currency, making manufactured goods less competitive with other nations.
“We are stuck digging and chopping,” explained Leslie.
Leslie said Canada’s movement away from a climate conscious nation and its declining reputation for environmentally safe practices on the world stage can’t be solved by committing to one solution, but rather many solutions.
Megan Leslie speaks about Canada’s role concerning the climate crisis.
“The solution isn’t one thing,” Leslie said. “It isn’t windmills, it isn’t energy efficiency, it isn’t packing your kids lunches in reusable size sandwich bags.”
Leslie gave her lecture in the greenest academic space on the Dalhousie campus, the Mona Campbell Building. Twenty-five people showed up.
Environmental studies student Annick Colbert went to the lecture because she was interested to hear Leslie speak about environmental issues, particularly the tar sands in Alberta. Colbert agreed with many of Leslie’s views.
“I think we really need to focus on renewable energy,” she said.
The lecture ended with a question period where audience members asked Leslie about her opinion on industries influencing the government’s environmental decisions as well as about the division of the NDP’s environmental values in contrast to the Conservatives.
Despite her concerns, Leslie was hopeful. She expressed her excitement about the possible innovations that Canada is exploring, such as the tidal power being harnessed and researched in the Bay of Fundy.