Want to fight climate change? Focus on the local
Re: “Students, climate activists protest provincial climate plan at Queen’s Park”
Students recently voiced their anger with the provincial government’s inaction on the climate change file, as part of a global movement started by a 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist.
While the day brought out many students from elementary schools to universities, the business of government remained unsurprisingly unshaken on January 11. Protests about climate change and the environment are disregarded by government legislators and staff at Queen’s Park. The people who show up to voice their concerns are seen as activists and members of fringe groups, not the people that Progressive Conservative MPPs represent.
The problem is that the Ford Government is rolling back environmental protections affecting every riding in the province. Last year, his government eliminated the watchdog office of the Environment Commissioner. The repeal of cap and trade in June has taken a system where large emitters pay for what they pollute, and replaced it with a solution that gives Ontario tax dollars back to major polluters.
But if politicians aren’t listening to their constituents who are demonstrating at the legislature, what’s the average citizen to do? The answer is, of course, to make it local.
There are local environmental issues that are exacerbated by climate change in every riding from Windsor to the Ottawa valley. This includes communities concerned about Nestlé water bottling plants in Wellington County and flooding causing infrastructure failure from rainwater runoff in Toronto.
Bringing environmental issues caused by climate change to local offices is the only way that MPPs will have to confront these issues head on. Until students start to fight locally, it doesn’t matter how many people gather on the lawn of the legislature. We will only see more of the same from Ford’s Ontario.
Alex Byrne-Krzycki is a third-year Classics Student at Victoria College.
Disclosure: Byrne-Krzycki previously worked as a political staffer for Environment Minister Glen Murray at Queen’s Park.
The need for accommodation
Re: “Missing executive reports once again draw concern at UTSU board meeting”
As only two out of seven University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) executives submitted their executive reports on time at the Board of Directors meeting last December 7, the question has been raised of whether or not time management is an issue.
Social Sciences Director Joshua Bowman remarked that this has been a “consistent problem” since last summer. Students should ask: have the executives just been consistently lazy, or did they not anticipate the workload which crept upon them as it became their time to grace the UTSU throne?
Hearing this news as a student at U of T, I am obviously concerned. I would hope that the executive members that we have voted for take their responsibilities more seriously. At the same time, I do sympathize, as I cannot imagine how much work it takes to be a student while simultaneously a full-time member of the UTSU.
It is no secret that the workload and pressures of being on the UTSU are heavy, but those who strive to serve as representatives should be prepared to fill their roles. With the majority of the executives having issues submitting their executive reports on time, I suspect that it is an issue in timing and accommodation rather than a lack of effort.
If the majority of the executives are having issues with tardiness, I think that they should put more effort into resolving the struggles of accommodating each other’s schedules. This will help them to avoid missing submissions of executive reports in the future.
Areej Rodrigo is a fourth-year English, Professional Writing and Communications, and Theatre and Performance student at St. Michael’s College.