On January 6, two protesters interrupted Prime Minister Stephen Harper during an event at the Vancouver Board of Trade. Sean Devlin and Shireen Soofi stood before the prime minister and the cameras to display signs calling for action on climate change. As the peaceful protesters were pushed off the stage by armed security, the Harper reportedly quipped, "It wouldn't be B.C. without 'em."
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I couldn't agree more.
But, is there something amusing about wanting to live in a world in which our children will have the opportunity to thrive in a healthy environment? Should we apologize for caring deeply for our world and the people we share it with? Should we be ashamed for calling on our political leaders to take action to prevent devastating tragedies of climate change like increasing extreme weather and the droughts of Eastern Africa?
Recent polls have found that 98 per cent of Canadians view nature as essential to human survival and more than 80 per cent agree that Canadians should have the right to live in a healthy environment. In survey after survey, and from coast to coast to coast, Canadians have clearly shown that concern for the environment is hardly a radical notion. In fact, it is the norm. It is a simple, even conservative, commitment to live within our means so that we can pass along to our children and their children a country as beautiful as the one we inherited from those who came before us.
These two protesters are hardly alone in their concern for our climate. They stand shoulder to shoulder with 10,318 ordinary Canadians who submitted testimony against the Northern Gateway pipeline to the Joint Review Panel and with the tens of thousands of attendees of the 140 climate protests across Canada this past November. These two activists are members of a large, growing and diverse community of Canadians who believe that our prosperity depends on being responsible stewards of the world in which we live.
A vibrant and healthy environment is not only necessary for our survival, it is also at the very heart of what makes us so proud to be Canadian. The richness and wonder of this land — with its hard winter nights and warm summer days — have shaped a culture of quiet, collective strength rooted in something much bigger than any one of us. The mountains, lakes, rivers and seas of Canada are so much a part of our cultural heritage that to stand up for these natural wonders and the people who depend on them is not only reasonable, but a profound act of patriotism as well.
Prime Minister Harper is right: this wouldn't be B.C. without people like Sean Devlin, Shireen Soofi and tens of thousands of others who are speaking out for climate justice every day. And it wouldn't be Canada without the millions of active citizens who raise their voices for justice. I'm proud to live in a country alongside people such as these.