Meeting to discuss Green New Deal taking place Wednesday

John M. Cuelenaere Public LIbrary. -- Herald file photo.

A group of Prince Albert citizens will meet Wednesday to discuss what they think a Green New Deal should look like in Canada.

The event, hosted at the JMC Public Library by the Canadians is one of many Green New Deal town halls being held in communities across Canada. The conversation is intended to bring people together from all walks of life to discuss a new economy that cuts global warming –pollution, sees the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples, the right to free prior and informed consent and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, while creating millions of green jobs and ensuring no one gets left behind.

The Green New Deal for Canada movement was launched on May 6 by a group of youth, artists, workers, Indigenous peoples scientists, organizations, unions and associations. It’s a coalition of organizations including CUPE Ontario, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, LeadNow, Greenpeace Canada and the Council of Canadians. In all, more than 70 organizations and over 60 individuals, including the likes of Neil Young, William Shatner, David Suzuki and Naomi Klein have signed on to the pact for a Green New Deal.

“The Pact for Green New Deal demands we cut emissions in half by 2030, protect critical cultural and biological diversity, create a million jobs and address the multiple crises we face through a  holistic and far-reaching plan that respects the constitutionally enshrined and internationally recognize d rights of Indigenous peoples,” a press release issued by the coalition reads.

‘This large, non-partisan coalition calls on all federal political parties, in the lead up to the election, to put versions of the Green New Deal that meet those goals in their platforms.”

According to the press release, 61 per cent of Canadians surveyed support the idea of a Green New Deal.

“In our lifetime, youth have seen both the degradation of our climate and any sense of stable livelihoods,” said Niklas Agarwal, student and youth organizer

‘We are the first generation in human history whose quality of life is predicted to be lower than our parents. The Green New Deal is the first sign of hope our generation has. …. It recognizes that climate change requires urgent action but is also an opportunity to make our communities healthier and create a million good jobs in the process.”

The local town hall is being hosted by the Council of Canadians and will be facilitated by Nancy Carswell. It is set to start at 7 p.m.

“The Green New Deal is all about climate justice and the post-fossil-fuel world we want to envision,” Carswell said.

Carswell said that while people talk about a transition away from fossil fuels as being painful, she described it as a sacrifice for something greater than.

“In this case, we have potential. A climate just transition has the potential for millions of jobs,” she said. “There are more jobs in green energy now than in fossil fuels. To continue with the status quo is not safe for any of us and is not economically viable.”

Carswell is hoping for a dozen people or more. The idea is to discuss what a Green New Deal would look like instead of having someone else’s ideas imposed on the movement.

“With (tonight)’s event, I hope that people start to have conversations about the potential we have with climate justice and all that entails. Climate justice goes far beyond environmental justice. It’s also anti-poverty justice, and it includes Indigenous rights,” she said.

“Whoever is there definitely has an opportunity to shape the vision. We’re drawing it up from the grassroots. As facilitator tomorrow my main concern is that people step up if they don’t normally do that and that people step back if they normally voice their opinions. When I encourage people to think about their proximity to power, we want the people who haven’t been heard from. This is an opportunity for them.”