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  • Writer's pictureThe Low Down

Justin, please do the right thing

The Editor,

An open letter to Justin Trudeau:

Dear prime minister, I know you've been a little preoccupied lately with the pandemic. But I also know you haven't forgotten about the climate crisis. And with your first budget in two years coming out this spring, I hope you are laying plans for the bold actions needed now.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has in some ways forced us to look away temporarily from the longer-term climate disaster menacing us, it does, at the same time, present an opening: just when massive government spending will be needed to restart our economy after its long, medically induced coma, we also need unprecedented investments into the green economy. Your government's spending during the pandemic has shown that you can find the money when an emergency demands it. And we are in a climate emergency that unfortunately dwarfs the severity of our current medical one.

The whole world is quickly shifting away from fossil fuels — for climate reasons, but also just because it’s dirty, exhaust is killing us (nearly one in five, according to a recent study), and the alternatives are cheaper. Canada must move fast just to keep up.

No small part of the job ahead is helping Canada's oil workers transition to new jobs. Fortunately, renewable energy infrastructure and building retrofitting are massive job creators, and there should be more than enough work to go around. For too long, green initiatives have been seen as a drag on economic growth, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The switch to green energy is the biggest economic opportunity to come along in years, akin to when we first transitioned from whale oil and firewood to fossil fuels.

This is the fight of our generation. You are just three years older than me. We are both in the prime of our working years. When our children look back at us years from now, they will judge us on how hard we fought for our planet during this crucial turning point. Nothing much else will really matter to them, except this one, existential decision. Did we choose health and life for them, or did we choose suffering and death? Did we face this crossroads with courage, or did we slink away with cowardice from the path we knew needed to be taken?

Please, do the right thing, Justin.

Sean Butler

Rupert, QC

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