Good Sunday Morning!
Forgive me that this missive starts with new dates that now establish some important bookends in my life.
When I woke up Friday morning, I had been tossing and turning much of the night with worries big and small. I had no idea if I could find a place to stay in Glasgow; had no idea when Parliament would resume and whether its timing would create a conflict with COP26; and (personal stuff) if my next knee replacement would conflict with Parliament? By the end of Friday, a large number of uncertainties were resolved.
First, an important date set was that Trudeau will unveil his new Cabinet on October 26. Uncertainties about Fisheries, Transport, Environment, Immigration and many others will be clarified so we can begin to work on multiple files in limbo since August 15. We have letters drafted to assist local business, people awaiting approval for family reunification- all manner of tense situations where no progress can be made until I am sworn in again as an MP (still waiting for that date) and we know which MP is the Minister to resume pressuring.
At the announcement of the date for the new Cabinet announcement came the news that Parliament will resume November 22. While that is a much longer break than usual between an election and the House resuming, it is not unprecedented. We are one of the very few democracies in the world where there is no rule (no set timeline) establishing how long after an election a prime minister must reconvene parliament. Theoretically, a prime minister could wait years…
It is a real relief not to have to choose between being in parliament and being at COP. I made the choice to attend climate negotiations in 2015 for COP21 in Paris (and I do not boast of it, but I am certain that by staying at COP21 when the other MPs and ministers left for 4-5 days for parliament’s opening, I helped keep negotiations on track – and kept Canadian negotiators on track.) I missed the start of Parliament in 2019 to be at COP25. I am relieved this time not to have to choose.
I have secured two sets of accreditation approvals from the Canadian government delegation to allow both Mike Morrice and me to work at COP. It will be his first COP, my 12th – so I want to show him the ropes. I am still hoping for accreditation for my husband to be able to assist me getting from place to place. The venues are enormous. Imagine a large airport and the walk from the farthest gate from the exit to a different terminal and another far away gate. That is what COP venues are like. The sessions require hastening from one to another through huge corridors round the clock in negotiations. I am not sure my knees are up to it without help. Please say a little prayer we get that help sorted. I am not about to ask a newly elected Member of Parliament to push me around if I end up in a wheelchair! By the way, that was my next bit of certainty on dates – barring delays due to overcrowded ICU’s and COVID patients – my right knee will be replaced on December 13. Phew!
And COP26 logistics. A total nightmare. Normally the government books ahead a large block of rooms for delegation members – MPs, representatives of provinces, some non-government groups, and the large number of civil servants from various departments to work round the clock in negotiations. Somehow, they didn’t book rooms this time (other than a smallish number) so MPs from opposition parties were informed that we are on our own, 2 weeks out, to find available accommodation. Apparently, a good number of the Canadian government team will be staying in Edinburgh!
If you want an experience in sticker shock, try googling available hotel rooms or Air B and Bs anywhere near Glasgow. An average Air B and B for the two weeks of the conference is around $12,000.
Very luckily, there is a wonderful home-stay network of Glasgow residents willing to billet climate justice campaigners from around the world – the “human hotel.” After many unsuccessful emails, I finally found a lovely lady near Glasgow willing to share her house with Canadian Greens. Total price- $200. So that is a huge relief!
As we get closer to COP26, I am gratified by the clarity of press coverage. Greta Thunberg has set the right tone. All the speeches reduced to “blah blah blah.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/28/blah-greta-thunberg-leaders-climate-crisis-co2-emissions
The tone of her comments surprisingly matched by HRH Queen Elizabeth. “It’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do,” she said, in a private comment picked up by a nearby microphone.
Increasing attention has turned to which of the world leaders will be attending. The timing is opportune. The G-20 Summit is taking place in Rome October 30-31. COP26 opens the next day, not far away in Glasgow, the morning of November 1. In the normal flow of COPs, the first week is unexciting, grunt work. Diplomats and civil servants attempt to hammer out agreed-upon texts for the ministers and high-level political leaders to accept the following week. But this year, as was the case at COP15 in Paris, leaders will speak first in a two-day summit. Pressure is on for nations to strengthen action to meet the demands of science – to have any hope of holding to 1.5 degrees C global average temperature increase. Global Greens call it the “Last Chance COP.” Prince Charles called it the “Last Chance Saloon.” https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/oct/12/last-chance-saloon-prince-charles-urges-scott-morrison-to-attend-cop26-climate-summit
No matter how you slice it, we are running out of time. Canada is about the worst performer with the weakest target in the industrialized world.
About 120 world leaders are expected – among them US President Joe Biden, UK PM Boris Johnson, HRH Queen Elizabeth, Emmanuel Macron of France, PM of Sweden, President of Switzerland, Congo, and South Korea. Thanks to Prince Charles’ prodding, Australia’s PM has also confirmed attendance. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/oct/15/scott-morrison-to-attend-cop26-in-glasgow-but-emissions-deal-with-nationals-still-weeks-off
Not attending- China’s Xi Jinping, but he will likely present by video link. Neither will Brazil’s Bolsonaro be there. At this point, no confirmation from Justin Trudeau. I will be trying to reach him to urge that he attend and announce there that Canada is turning over a new leaf – cancelling TMX, getting serious about ending fossil fuel subsidies, banning fracking and bringing in a strong safety net through a Just Transition bill for energy-sector workers. Please help by emailing and phoning and stirring things up on social media. 613-992-4211 (phone) email – email@example.com
In other news, so heart-breaking, the Fairy Creek injunction is back in place. It is a blow, but not final. The appeal court has not ruled on the wonderful decision of Justice Thompson, refusing to extend the injunction. This one is only in place until November 15th when the appeal against Justice Thompson’s decision will be heard. Even though the court granted Teal Jones an injunction until then, it noted, “methods of enforcement of the court’s order have led to serious and substantial infringement of civil liberties, including impairment of the freedom of the press to a marked degree.”
Fingers crossed for a denial of the injunction November 15. Thanks to all the brave forest defenders. Shame on the government of John Horgan. Shame on John Horgan. Have none of his ministers a shred of self-respect – of integrity?? Resign and join people of principle – Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen!
For now, having celebrated yesterday the return of our wonderful, punctual Bufflehead Duck to Roberts Bay, a reminder to shut down your computer and get out to explore and appreciate the extraordinary complexity and mystery of the living planet. And let’s roll up our sleeves and not accept that Canada continue the “blah blah blah” on the world stage.
Love to all,