Over the years I have advised decision-makers at the municipal, provincial, federal and international level from across the political spectrum. For example, I’ve served on the local CRD Roundtable on the Environment, the Provincial Climate Action Team, the Royal Society of Canada Expert Panel on Ocean Climate Change and Marine Biodiversity, the United States Academy of Sciences Climate Research Committee and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I’ve testified before Canadian Senate and Legislative Committees and the Ontario Energy Board. And I’ve provided expert opinion and advice to many of our national political leaders and elected representatives including former NDP MP Denise Savoie and present leader Thomas Mulcair, and former Liberal MP David Anderson and leader Stéphane Dion. I would do the same if asked by the current Harper administration but, a request has never been received.
Many of the issues we face today require somber reflection upon the long-term consequences of our actions. Growing debt, unsustainable forest practices, global warming, overfishing, rapid resource extraction all have far-reaching ramifications for the well-being of the next generation. Yet most of our political leaders are reluctant to grapple with the challenges we face in addressing these critical issues of intergenerational equity.
Our politicians are typically elected for four-year terms. For many, the prospect of how a decision will play out for their re-election is of paramount importance. Too often our politicians tell us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear. And too often this limits their ability to develop a social license to put in place innovative policies with implications for the future sustainability of our society.
I’ve always believed that it’s just as important to support good policy as it is to criticize bad policy. For example, it’s very easy to mobilize the general public against a particular issue. But it’s equally important to mobilize people in support of good policy to ensure its success. Those of you who follow my Facebook page will have witnessed this first hand over the last couple of years.
On the climate change policy front, I was very supportive of Stéphane Dion’s green shift for showing bold leadership (see his testimony below). I was also supportive of Thomas Mulcair’s proposed upstream cap and trade system and hence his NDP leadership bid (see photo above). At the same time, I have been highly critical of Stephen Harper’s complete lack of any climate policy. The same is true in British Columbia. In the last election, the Liberal government showed outstanding climate leadership through the introduction of a portfolio of climate policies. I, and many others concerned about the need for introducing carbon pricing, were very supportive of their initiatives. At the same time we strongly objected to the NDP “axe the tax” campaign. But times have changed. Liberal leadership is lost on the climate portfolio and the NDP are beginning to talk about how they can improve the present policies.
In Copenhagen in the spring of 2009, Canadian film director Rob Stewart interviewed me for his upcoming movie Revolution. Revolution was released in theatres across Canada on April 12, 2013. In the interview I tell Rob Stewart that “scientists have done their job and now it’s time for politicians to do theirs”. But here we are today in 2013 and they aren’t. I have been a faculty member for twenty four years undertaking teaching and research at the forefront of international efforts on climate science. I could easily continue to do this for another decade. However I believe that it’s time to step out of the ivory tower and be part of the solution. I think my track record is a testimony to my ability to work with any political party.
Over the years I have been asked to consider running as a candidate for a variety of political parties at both the provincial and federal level. I finally agreed to run for the BC Green party as I wanted to give back to the community I have called home for most of my life. I share the same values as those within the BC Green Party. I also believe in the need for democratic reform and an empowerment of individual MLAs within a parliamentary democracy to be able to speak freely on behalf of their constituents.