Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day (Rant)!

Today is July 1st, our Canadian celebration of self-congratulatory nationalism, picnics, and things red and white. Many of us have been fortunate enough to wangle a day off yesterday as well, so we've had as many as three days off already and don't have to go back to work 'til tomorrow. And here on the West Coast, at least, we've had splendid, true summer weather the whole time. Glorious!

In the midst of all this glorious summer happiness, though, I was dismayed to read the headline in Saturday's Globe and Mail. Apparently, "Energy crisis supplants environment as top concern," with the cost of soaring gas prices bringing us mild-mannered Canadians to a simmering rage. The leader of the Opposition Liberal party, Stéphane Dion, is fending off serious criticism for his carbon tax plan, and here in BC, the generally left-leaning NDP is aligning itself with the right-wing Canadian Taxpayers to oppose our Liberal Premier, Gordon Campbell's carbon tax, which goes into effect at the gas pumps today.

Meanwhile, however, as The Vancouver Sun points out in a Business section piece on the carbon tax, commuters are changing their driving habits substantially, finally making the switch to public transit, biking, combining several trips into a single, more-efficient one, even considering trading their SUVs in for smaller cars. For all the years we've known about the effects of Global Warming and understood the role cars were playing, we've waited and hoped and prayed for such a response, but it took action at the pocketbook level to make this change. I've voted against Campbell every chance I got, disliking his government's approach on almost every other issue. I started to be swayed slightly by his approach to First Nations issues, but was skeptical. But if he can maintain this position as the first Canadian premier to implement a carbon tax, he may finally have earned my vote. Tomorrow, my Canada Day pledge is that I will phone both my NDP Member of the Legislative Assembly and the nearest local representative of the Liberals, and let them know my position. I've read enough to be reassured that this will not be economically disastrous -- many reputable economists have explained that the tax will be revenue neutral, and they charge that fearmongering among those opposed to the tax (or working for their own political gain) is spreading misinformation and wrong numbers. And even if the carbon tax hurts, I think the planet is worth it! Driving a car is not a right, but a privilege that we need to be much more responsible about.

11 comments:

  1. Money talks doesn't it? Hardly anyone takes any notice until money is involved, now we are all concerned.
    Happy Canada Day to you and Canada!

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  2. Happy Canada Day to you too! We spent Canada Day morning strolling the Plaka in Athens, then journeying back to Budapest after a two-week holiday in Greece. I had to catch up on your blog, and loved all the photos and posts, especially the one on your visit to Aimee. Look forward to getting back into my regular routine, but first we are expecting guests from Canada next week - I believe they are bringing maple syrup! :0) Have a great summer, Patricia

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  3. Cybill -- too right! and thanks for the Canada Day wishes.
    Patricia: lovely to have you back and how appropriate that it should be on Canada Day! I've missed you (especially when I posted about visiting Aimee, a post I knew you were looking forward to), but hoped you were having a lovely holiday. Enjoy your Canadian guests -- we had maple syrup with our pancakes yesterday, mmmmm. . .

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  4. Happy Canada Day!

    I'm also hoping that the higher gas prices will get people in LA out of their Death Stars (Lincoln Navigators, Hummers, etc.) as well. I remember the 1973 gas crisis, and I've always chosen my vehicles for good mileage; it just amazes me that people seem to be shocked to think that fossil fuels aren't an unlimited resource.

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  5. Pseu: I, too, learned a lesson from the energy worries of the 70s and am, like you, amazed to find that people still haven't got this!
    btw, read your comment on gift-giving over at Duchesse's and have to say I'm a big fan of the spontaneous gift -- it seems a truer gift, somehow, since it's outside the realm of expectation, obligation, and reciprocity.

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  6. Late as usual. Happy Canada Day.
    I gave up my car 2 years ago for primarily financial reasons, but the fringe benifit always gives me a small warm glow knowing I am at least trying. When I first learnt to drive after I struggled with 2 babies on public transport I loved the freedom the car gave me. But I am learning that with a bit of patience it is possible to manage without a car.

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  7. Happy Canada Day!, from a Canadian living in America.

    People here complain about the high cost of gas; when I explain the cost in Canada they're floored. I remember too the energy crisis in the 70s and my parents never had two cars...if you wanted to go somewhere, you walked, biked or took the bus. We do have two cars, the second one essential where we live, but rarely used. So now comes the big debate...could we live with only one?

    Beautiful flowers!

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  8. Alison: I'm impressed that you manage all that you do on public transit -- of course, that works much better in a city with a decent system, but it still requires patience and commitment, especially when there are kids involved.
    Anonymous Canadian Ex-Pat: Nice to have a new commenter -- Welcome! Whether or not you decide to live with only one car, at least you're making this a conscious decision, weighing the costs and taking responsibility for your energy consumption rather than considering it a right. We still have a small car, but we try not to use it when we can walk instead. Everyone has to make decision that work for their life, and there may even be justification for choosing an SUV (I'd have a hard time justifying anyone's Humvee!), but I think we have to accept that these choices will cost us.
    And thanks -- the flowers are a good reminder to smile after ranting ;-)

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  9. Grest post, ma! I nearly ended a long friendship with my blunt remark to a friend who bought her second monster SUV. It's time.

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  10. Great post, and yes a little bit of a rant is justified. I have been slowly getting steamed for years as the SUVs have taken over the roads and parking lots, and now we have an ever increasing population of humvees. It seems that memory is far too short. And now these same people are complaining about how they can't afford to drive, but most of them are unwilling to trade in their vehicles for something smaller, and I am not only talking about families with children.

    Yes a carbon tax would be great down here too, and it would be unpleasant, but it is about time that we actually have to start taking responsibility for our actions and choices (oops, must stop before rant begins).

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  11. Duchesse: I think we've all been tippy-toeing 'round the issue for fear of offending our friends and acquaintances who keep driving their big cars and SUVs -- it's time they heard the truth loud and clear and maybe the higher prices will deliver that message.
    Mardel: Exactly! I think those people who want to exercise their supposed right to drive big should start paying the cost for what they're doing to our shared world.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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