Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Changing the climate is gaining momentum

As I prepare to join faith leaders from around the world at the United Nations climate change conference in South Africa (COP17), I am watching the cascading effect of our Canadian faith leaders’ statement and efforts of last month. Here are a few of the things that have happened since then:

    • Our Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change, released October 25, 2011, has been lifted up by many global church networks and reproduced in Embassy magazine. Signatures have been added to it, including those of the Canadian Religious Conference and many religious congregations of men and women. A couple of Catholic papers, for example, picked up a recent article by Joe Gunn. If you or your congregation are willing to add your signature to our Interfaith Call for Action, please do, as signatures are still being received. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada, and I will carry this statement with us into the witness of the World Council of Churches during the talks. This week I accepted an invitation from the World Council of Churches to make a presentation about this statement during the WCC’s event within the COP17.
    • Members of our varied faith communities are signing a petition to add to others from around the world, and to be offered to world leaders on our behalf by Desmond Tutu, at the November 27th interfaith rally in Durban. There is still time for you and your community to sign the petition. See the end of this blog for more information about the petition.
    • Senator Grant Mitchell has spoken to the Senate about the significance of our work, and has drawn attention to presentations that Willard Metzger and I made to the Deputy Speaker’s breakfast with parliamentarians.
    • Former Moderator Bill Phipps will be fasting as a prayerful discipline throughout COP17, and you may wish to join him in solidarity. In particular, Phipps says he will be “holding The United Church of Canada’s current Moderator, Mardi Tindal, in his prayers,” as well as others of the World Council of Churches’ delegation of which I am a part.
    • During his fast, Phipps also plans to visit the constituency offices of various political leaders, including those of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Alison Redford. The schedule of those visits can be found on Phipps’ website.
  • A Canadian All-Party Caucus on Climate Change has now been formed and will be especially interested in hearing from you. Members are:
  • Michael Chong, Conservative MP – Wellington—Halton Hills, ON
  • Denise Savoie, New Democratic Party MP – Victoria, BC
  • Kirsty Duncan, Liberal MP – Etobicoke North, ON
  • Maria Mourani, Bloc Québecois MP – Ahuntsic, QC
  • Elizabeth May, Green Party MP – Saanich Gulf Islands, BC

My plan is to blog from the COP17 talks, so please stay tuned for further developments.

May we encourage one another in this fast-growing and necessary movement to participate fully in God’s healing of creation.

Finally, here’s more about that petition:

The petition has been designed to conform to House of Commons rules so it can be presented in the House of Commons by Members of Parliament. That is why it is a hardcopy petition, not an electronic one. This petition has been certified as correct by the Clerk of Petitions of the House of Commons.

When you have 25 or more signatures, contact your MP and ask him/her to present the petitions from his/her constituents in the House of Commons. If you have a petition signed by 25 or more people, it can be presented to the House of Commons. There is a 15-minute time slot in the agenda of the House every day for presenting petitions. Generally MPs are expected to present petitions from their constituents even if they don’t support the cause. You can find your MP and contact info on the Parliament of Canada website.

The best thing would be to arrange a meeting with your MP when you could discuss climate change as a moral issue and hand over the signed petitions. Ask for a commitment on presenting the petitions to the House of Commons, and ask to have a report back on the date they will be presented so you can check in the record of debates (or Hansard) online.

If a meeting cannot be arranged, try to set up a phone call with your MP, or failing that, send a letter with the petitions attached asking that they be presented in the House of Commons. Be sure to ask for a reply on whether the MP will present them and, if so, on what day she/he plans to do so.

If your MP refuses to make a commitment to present the petitions, send them to Citizens for Public Justice at 501–309 Cooper St., Ottawa, ON, K2P 0G5, and they will arrange for another MP to present them to the House of Commons. Please report back to CPJ by sending an e-mail to Melodi Alopaeus at telling her how many signatures you gathered and which MP you have sent your petitions to.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Melodi Alopaeus by e-mail or phone 1-800-667-8046.