I have been watching, with increasing dismay, the diminishing level of political discourse on the issues surrounding climate change in national Canadian politics. The “debate” is not on the issues, the merits of policy options or the design of the way forward. It is almost entirely concentrated on efforts to define the “other guy” in negative terms for some less than adequate political “advantage.”
The Cons have a big television buy for their Attack Ads, attempting to position Dion as the guy who is totally responsible for all Liberal alleged lack of action on environment policy for the past 13 years. The Liberal rebuttal is Harper is merely a born-again environmentalist of political convenience but not a true believer and therefore not to be trusted.
The facts and evidence in support of each position are thin at best but that is not the issue really. There is plenty of blame to go around but time for action is a-wastin’ and we need some definitive action and serious competent political leadership with a larger vision and a longer view than the pending election.
My sense is Canadians will reward resolute, stringent and responsible regulations on GHG limits. The policy we need must encourage and provide incentives for what is nothing short of a culture change in how we live as part of nature and not as its “masters.” That is what polls are saying will be rewarded by the majority of citizen's at election time.
The people are much farther ahead of the politicians in seeing it is time to act on the issues of climate change. We know this is about “us” as much as it is about “them.” We know “we” as individuals, families, communities, countries and enterprises have to change first. We can’t afford to wait for “them” to move first and we have precious little leverage on others save persuasion and market forces.
We need our biggest brains, our most creative minds and our wisest thinkers to be unleashed and able to focus to help design a different way forward. We don’t need more communications consultants commissioned to produce misleading manufactured political rhetoric.
The policy framework for all of this is simple to see but difficult to deliver. It has to link economic growth to enhanced ecological outcomes and provide for improve social cohesion – on a local, national and international context. No big Whoop! (sic)
The chance to actually rethink our operational definitions of success and progress is upon us. Growth without concern for all the costs involved and the integrated ecological implications is no longer "on." The public policy change parade is forming and is at the tipping point for a new public policy approach.
The new approach must balance economic well being, ensure ecological enhancement and advance our social cohesion. The practical people, be they in business, politics or social activist, who can get in front of that parade with credibility and ability, will be the new leaders and agents of this change.
We need to attract, nurture and reward a different kind of person to come into politics if we want to change the nature of how we are governed in our democracy. I have great respect for the abilities of all the current leaders in our federal political parties. My sense is we have good people in a poor system because the system often rewards the wrong things. It is too much about attaining and exercising power for its own sake and not enough about defining progress and measuring achievements for the sake of us all.
This will only change when citizenship becomes something we all value and return to using its power to make a difference. The political system is only as good as the express expectations and the forceful insistence's of its citizens.