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Climate Showdown in Regina

The “Climate Showdown in Regina” began Tuesday with screenings of “Downstream,” “You, me and the SPP,” and “King’s North,” and continued Wednesday with the Pedal for the Planet Lobby Loop Launch and a people’s teach-in on climate, energy and trade.

Wednesday’s actions were kicked off in the morning with a full page ad in Regina’s Leader Post asking Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach to ‘Play Fair.’  The ad issued by Sierra Club, the Council of Canadians, Greenpeace and Public Interest Alberta sends a clear message to the Premier from Albertan based groups: tell the other Premiers that Alberta won’t make them carry our load. All of Canada’s provinces have to pull their own weight and must make their fair share of real pollution cuts. The tar sands are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country and Alberta’s intensity based targets for emission reductions will actually allow an increase in emissions! The ad was the focus of a Calgary Herald article and much discussion in Regina.

On Wednesday at 12:00, a large group gathered outside of the Saskatachewan legislature where Premiers are meeting to discuss climate, trade and energy issues at the Council of the Federation meetings, to send a clear message that addressing climate change is a priority. Featured were youth participating in Pedal for the Planet who have biked from as far as Whitehorse and Victoria (and will continue to bike across the country) who are literally putting into action their conviction for climate action. Signs calling for climate justice, banners declaring the need for ‘green jobs not tar sands,’ ‘tar sands – the dirtiest oil on earth,’ and the Council of Canadians ‘our power is renewable – no new approvals in the tar sands’ were colourful and captured the attention of local media. So did the speeches which highlighted Canada’s tarred reputation internationally as one of the worst climate laggards, the need to address the tar sands, to adopt a climate justice framework in taking climate action (one that recognizes the disproportionate impacts of climate change and is equitable) and for all provinces to do their fair share in reducing emissions.

In the evening, there was a lively teach-in highlighting issues and actions that should be on the Premier’s agenda.  I participated in the first panel with Eriel Deranger, Athabasca Chipewyan member and Freedom from Oil Campaigner with the Rainforest Action Network and Clayton Müller of the Mathais Colomb Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba and indigenous oil campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. Our panel was focussed on environmental racism, climate justice and trade. The discussion included outlining core principles of climate justice, Canada’s history of environmental racism and how free market oriented energy integration with the U.S. driven by NAFTA and the SPP is furthering corporate and market control of energy resources with exports trumping environmental priorities, energy security and needed action on climate change. Greenpeace gave a presentation on climate change, the group learned about the Pedal for the Planet experiences on the road, Jim Harding discussed uranium and nuclear power in Saskatchewan and the local context of climate change in Saskatchewan was addressed.

Thursday’s events will include a press conference and 12:00 rally outside of the legislature – more to come soon!