Sep 17, 2015

Leaping into a new carbon-free economy


Tuesday Sept. 15 saw the release of an exciting new document – The Leap Manifesto: A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another.

In essence, the manifesto is a positive vision for Canada. It calls upon the next government to move Canada off fossil fuels quickly, insisting that baby steps will not do – we need to leap.

The manifesto goes beyond what any of the parties are currently saying. And it deals with more than just the urgency of climate change. It calls as well for a more just country; one that acts in accordance with Aboriginal rights and title, welcomes migrants and refugees, tackles inequality and poverty, and invests in the low-carbon social programs and infrastructure we need.

The Leap was released with great fanfare by some of the initial signatories, a fascinating cross-section of prominent Canadian leaders, activists and artists. A full list of the initial signatories can be found on The Leap website.

But now the Canadian public at large is being invited to sign on, to add their names to this call. And thousands already have (over 10,000 within the first day).

The CCPA was asked if we could provide a supporting document outlining how The Leap could be paid for, and we did so in a brief entitled “We Can Afford The Leap,” authored by Bruce Campbell, Marc Lee and myself. You can find that here, or download it here. Drawing on the CCPA’s Alternative Federal Budget and the work of our Climate Justice Project in particular, our contribution seeks to outline a variety of options for financing The Leap.

While initiated by author Naomi Klein, the drafting of the manifesto was truly a collective effort, involving dozens of organizations and activists.

Here’s a photo from the launch (yes, that’s me next to the amazing new Mrs. Universe, Ashley Callingbull; not something I ever expected to write).

Pictured left to right are: Keith Stewart (Greenpeace), Seth Klein (CCPA), Ashley Callingbull (2015 Mrs Universe), Avi Lewis (filmmaker and co-initiator of The Leap), Tantoo Cardinal (actor), Joseph Boyden (author), David Suzuki, Melina Laboucan-Massimo (climate and tarsands campaigner, Lubicon Cree), Bishop Mark MacDonald (Anglican Church National Indigenous Bishop), Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians), Sarah Harmer (musician), Clayton Ruby (lawyer), Naomi Klein, Stephen Lewis, Yolen Bollo Kamara (Black Lives Matter), and Paul Moist (CUPE). (Missing from photo was poet George Elliot Clarke, who arrived late but then gave the event some great fire.)

It has been interesting to see some of the reaction from the mainstream media. It’s as if some see themselves as guardians of the acceptable parameters around our political debates, and any attempt to step outside those barriers must be slapped back and ridiculed. Much like the brouhaha that erupted over Linda McQuaig’s comments about the tar sands earlier in the election campaign, it is frustrating that when a group of people come together to say that science is demanding that we get serious about the climate, most mainstream political commentators are only able to interpret the document through the lens of the current political horserace.

But as Naomi wrote on social media after the release:

“The Leap is not about horserace politics. Not about attacking or supporting any party. It’s about enlarging space of what’s possible. It’s stunning that political press corp can’t seem to fathom that people have political ideas that are not about party politics. Lots of Canadians are going to be voting for what they don’t want. The Leap creates a space to demand what we do want. Deal with it pundits.”

You can see a very good interview with Naomi talking about the Leap here on CTV.

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