Moderator Mardi’s Blog: “You’ve given me hope”

Groups are gathering in various regions of the world today, June 8th, to mark World Oceans Day, learning and taking action about ocean change, along with climate change.

Recently I spoke with Senator Grant Mitchell of Alberta. He and Senator Elaine McCoy (also an Albertan) have sponsored critically important legislation that is now before the Canadian Senate—and they need help to encourage a majority of Senators from across the political spectrum to support the Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311).

This bill was passed by the House of Commons on May 5, 2010, with 149 votes for and 136 votes against. I asked Senator Mitchell if he would find a letter of support from me to Senators helpful.

“That would be enormously helpful,” he said, and was amazed and grateful that I might also encourage United Church members to write to the Senator from their province.

He added, “You’ve given me hope”—hope that enough Canadians might encourage enough senators to do what needs to be done. He would love to hear a chorus of Canadian voices in support of this bill that would ensure Canada meets its global climate change obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate.

The bill:

a) sets out science-based targets for reductions in Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of 25% by 2020, and 80% by 2050 (relative to an internationally recognized base year of 1990)

b) requires the Minister of the Environment and the federal government to draft five-year plans on how to accomplish these goals, with interim reports every two years, thereby ensuring public accountability

c) requires review of government plans and reports by the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy

You can learn more by reading Senator Mitchell’s speech.

Following is a copy of my letter sent to Senators, the Prime Minister, the Minister of the Environment, and Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate. Perhaps it will inspire you to consider adding to Senator Mitchell’s hope by writing a similar letter—or phoning or e-mailing Senators from your province—for the sake of today and tomorrow. Your children and grandchildren will thank you for speaking up at this historic moment.

To find a complete list of Senators by province, see the Parliament of Canada website.

Senators don’t get mail nearly as often as Members of Parliament, and there’s every reason to trust that our letters will make an impression.

Please feel free to share the link to this blog with your network. Senator Mitchell and I are hoping we can “go viral” with this effort.

What might you do for the sake of soul, community, and creation given this legislative effort?

FYI, here’s my letter:

Dear Senator XXXXXXXX,

As Moderator of The United Church of Canada, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, I write with deep hope and anticipation that you will support Bill C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, as sponsored by Senator Grant Mitchell (Liberal, Alberta) and seconded by Senator Elaine McCoy (Progressive Conservative, Alberta).

I was encouraged to see the House of Commons support this bill in two successive Parliaments. Canadians will be greatly encouraged to see a majority of Senators from across the political spectrum also support this significant legislation.

You may recall my January 18, 2010, letter to Canadians entitled “Where Is the Hope after Copenhagen?” I have been overwhelmed by hundreds of positive responses to this letter, not only from United Church members, but also from Canadians of all backgrounds. I am in close contact with Christians from a variety of denominations, as well as leaders of other faith communities. We share deep concerns about the moral challenge of climate and ocean change.

The bill before you is reasonable. It is an example of moral leadership, and we are counting on your courage to ensure that Canada plays its full role in combatting climate and ocean change. Setting strong targets for greenhouse gas emissions will enable effective government planning and monitoring, and help us take national action to mitigate the threat of ecological and economic consequences.

I will soon meet with other religious leaders from around the world to finalize a statement encouraging the G8 leaders to work toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which include long-term environmental sustainability, halting climate change, and addressing impacts on the poor. Your support for this bill will demonstrate the inspired leadership we encourage and support. I look forward to being able to share with our networks of concern and action news that the Senate has passed this crucial bill.

Thank you for taking your leadership responsibility so seriously, for today and for tomorrow.

Moderator Mardi Tindal
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

c.c. The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
The Honourable Marjory LeBreton, Leader of the Government in the Senate
The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of the Environment
All Senators
All Members of Parliament