As I’m writing this, students and adults are gathering in St. John’s Newfoundland to kick off one of the first events in what is likely to be the biggest climate mobilization in Canadian history.
More than 200 events are planned in every corner of the country, from Vancouver to Inuvik and Saskatoon to Montreal, where crowds are expected to exceed 200,000 people in a massive march led by Indigenous youth and Greta Thunberg.
In other words, this is huge. But, there’s also something different about what’s happening in Canada compared to the rest of the world because, unlike pretty much any other country that’s seen massive climate strikes, we’re in the middle of an election campaign. We have an unprecedented opportunity to use this moment to change Canada’s climate politics.
Our Time has a plan to do just that.
For the past few months, the Our Time campaign has been building a youth-led strategy for this election based on three simple words: organize, strike, vote. Obviously, with today being the climate strikes, and roughly the midpoint of the federal campaign, we’re smack in the middle of that plan.
The idea is pretty straightforward. First, Our Time leaders started organizing their communities to build support for a made-in-Canada Green New Deal, a climate plan that does what science and justice demand. That work has carried on as Our Time organizing teams have come together in 13 cities, with a massive distributed network active across the country.
Those teams have also endorsed 29 “Green New Deal Champions” in the federal election. These are candidates with a deep commitment to the four pillars of a real Green New Deal: listening to and acting in line with climate science, ensuring a just transition for communities and workers, respecting Indigenous and ensuring dignity and justice for all. All of these candidates are shutting down their offices today to join the strikes, and since they’re showing up for us, we want to do the same for them.
That brings us to the third part of the strategy: voting.
Whoever we elect on Oct. 21 is going to lead Canada through the next four years. And, if we’re going to have a chance at meeting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 11-year deadline for being well on our way to tackling climate change, we need to put real climate champions into office.
We’ve seen what a few bold politicians with roots in social movements and a willingness to buck convention and push the envelope can do with people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And, while we know that our political system is different, a group of dedicated MPs who will do whatever it takes for a Green New Deal can bring something similar to our politics here in Canada.
So, if you’re reading this on your way home from a Climate Strike and wondering what to do next, here’s my suggestion: organize, strike, vote. And remember, that no matter who is elected on Oct. 21 we’re still going to need this movement to push them to stand up to Big Oil and do what truly needs to be done.
So, after we vote, we organize and strike again.