An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
STUDENTS IN DOZENS of Canadian schools and elsewhere in the world will go on strike tomorrow.
Some will undoubtedly say, “How dare they? They should be punished.”
I say they should be commended. They’re part of a movement started by 16-year-old Swedish high-school student Greta Thunberg last year to protest the lack of action on climate change.
Her assessment of the urgency of the issue is now famous: “I want you to act like our house is on fire,” she has said. “Because it is.”
Friday’s strike follows one that was held March 15. In that one, a few dozen Kamloops students gathered near Royal Inland Hospital and then marched to City Hall. Their cause is just but young people are savvy enough to know that one act of protest won’t change the world. Governments need more than that to get the picture.
As the Climate Strike Canada website says, “Dramatic climate action is the only rational option for humanity.”
But not everybody agrees with the tactic. Some educators say strike action is the wrong approach. A day in school is more important than a protest, they say. The school system just can’t be seen to support such a thing, they say.
Some have even said students, or their parents, should be fined if they walk out.
In fairness, other educators support the strikes and have authorized absences.
In my view, it’s very telling that our youth are the ones taking the lead and taking the most action on crucial issues. If there’s any hope for saner gun laws, for example, it’s the student strikes against gun violence that will likely bring results.
May Friday’s strike in Kamloops draw not dozens, but hundreds to the cause of action on climate change.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.