Dear Prime Minister of Canada
Hornby Island, B.C.
July 1, 2013
My Dear Prime Minister:
I was up at dawn today to watch the sun rise above the B.C. coast mountains and into my little island home. Watched it set last night too – sitting on the warm beach rocks with my cat. These everyday holy moments draw us, do they not?
Canada Day. An ordinary day really. Oh, perhaps the breakfast is special – maybe some extra bacon? I’ll make a big salad from the garden lettuce at lunch. Dinner will bring the raspberries off the canes and into a bowl. Maybe with a bit of maple syrup? Hey – that’s Canadian! This 67=year old may not be much of a partygoer, but honouring my country – our country – happens in my heart pretty much every day really.
I’ve had many traverses across this land – by train, car, air. Not as many as you, but enough to know where, just a bit east of Winnipeg on the Trans-Canada, the flat prairie finds the rocks of the Canadian Shield. I still marvel at glimpsing that ridge of Rocky Mountains from my in-law’s kitchen window in Olds, Alberta, where my daughter’s Grandpa grew barley on his quarter-section for many years. To have wondered in awe at the thousands of magnificent Northern Gannets swooping above Cape St Mary’s on Newfoundland’s south coast. And last week, on this northern gulf island in my native B.C., watching the exotic water’s edge creatures at the moment of the summer low tide. A 0.3 foot low tide holy moment!
I was thinking of you the other day when I saw a picture of your wife, Laureen, at work helping folks deal with the destructive flooding in her home province of Alberta. I’d been listening to the CBC weatherman describe causes – you may have heard it too. The annual June shift in the jet stream which often brings rain to the region. A weather system that came not from the west over the Rockies, but from the southeast – thus its wet payload fell first on Alberta rather than B.C. Perhaps dumped is a more descriptive word. The clincher to make the weather ‘event’ (as they say) so massive was, and is, the reality that warmer air carries more moisture. You will know from weather and climate experts that climate change is one of the causes of the increase in warm, moisture-carrying air.
So, why was I thinking of you? Because, as I ached for the folks in High River and wrote a cheque for the Alberta Red Cross relief effort, I was also hoping that one day soon you would find a way, on behalf of our country, to firmly take up the climate leadership challenge and opportunity lying before us all. You will know there are hundreds of thousands of Canadians already there, taking personal and public environmental leadership in our homes, neighbourhoods, communities, villages, cities, and provinces. We believe in the power of one person to make a difference, so this is the hopeful thing. But it sure would help to have you really on the environmental and climate change team too. I don’t need to describe what that work looks like – it is part of the work of a PM to know these things. And you do.
To be up front, I’ll use the word ‘courage’ here, because, plain and simple, that’s what it takes for any of us to shift perspective, embrace change, and take new initiatives. Your colleagues and fellow citizens already moving forward will welcome the company. No questions asked.
With good wishes to you and your family on this Canada Day, July 1, 2013.