I HAD NOT QUITE been born in 1962 when U.S. President John F. Kennedy made his historic speech, “We choose to go to the Moon,” on Sept. 12, 1962.
With that speech, the U.S. committed to the goal of sending astronauts to the moon. By the time Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon, I was a little girl of six years old, sitting with my sisters on the floor of our family’s darkened living room, watching the moon landing on a tiny black and white television. I remember it to this day.
Incumbent Cathy McLeod, the Conservative candidate, and Terry Lake, the Liberal candidate for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo for the upcoming October federal election, were both born in 1957. They are both five years older than me.
They might not remember Kennedy’s speech that launched the space race, but I have no doubt they have just as vivid memories of the moon landing as I do. And likely some previous space flights as well.
Kennedy didn’t say, “we will get to the moon, but we need to proceed cautiously,” or “we’ll get to the moon, but we have to be careful how much it costs.” He didn’t say “the moon is important, but we need to think about other things as well.” He didn’t say “we will get there, but it will take 30 years.”
I’ve had a chance to see all the federal candidates now at one or more election forums over the last week. In all, there are seven candidates running in the Kamloops-Thompson-Caribooriding. Along with McLeod and Lake, there is also Kira Cheeseborough (Animal Protection Party), Ken Finlayson (People’s Party), Iain Currie (Green), Peter Kerek (Communist), and Cynthia Egli (NDP).
I could speak about all of the candidates, but I’m going to concentrate on Cathy McLeod and Terry Lake. That’s because, of all the federal parties, the Conservatives and Liberals are most likely to form government.
This week, I saw McLeod speak at a forum sponsored by the Rotary, while I saw Lake at that forum, plus the Council of Canadians’ forum at the farmers’ market. I wanted to hear what the Conservatives and Liberals wanted to do about climate change.
At the Rotary forum, McLeod didn’t even bother to mention climate change in her opening remarks. Highway upgrades, a children’s play park, and constituency work were her topics.
Lake fared a bit better, but mentioned child tax credits, reconciliation and the gas tax funds for municipalities before listing the climate action plan as achievements of the Liberals’ last four years in power.
When it came to delivering solutions, both McLeod and Lake backed away from making any bold statements.
McLeod cautioned that taxes, such as a carbon tax, were a far worse fate. The Conservatives vow to eliminate the federal carbon tax, proven to be one of the most effective tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Her party’s solution is technology. Laudable, except that technology goes nowhere without government policies to support it. If the private sector could solve climate change on its own with technology, it already would have.
At both forums I attended where Lake spoke, he talked about taking a measured approach including retrofitting houses, and the ultimate climate change solution of building a bigger oil pipeline.
One can only imagine that a bigger pipeline would carry more oil, adding to more carbon emissions, not reducing them. He cautioned about economic disaster if climate change was tackled too quickly. He talked of reaching carbon emission goals in 30 years.
When Kennedy made his famous speech, he did not have solutions. He was not a scientist. But he knew that inspiring others would lead to success. He gave others permission to find bold solutions to some of the most complex problems ever faced by humankind. He set goals that pushed others to excel.
We are now facing a threat to the planet like no other we have faced.
Global warming leads to more frequent and more devastating wildfires. Imagine if 4,400 homes in Kamloops were destroyed by wildfire. We don’t have to imagine it. It has already happened, in Fort McMurray in 2016, at a cost of $9.9 billion.
Global warming leads to more severe flooding. I wonder if Grand Forks will ever recover after the 2018 flood that engulfed the town.
Global warming leads to sea level rising, causing loss of whole island nations and massive infrastructure costs. Intense storms, killing thousands, are the order of the day.
Two political forums into this election, and I have no confidence whatsoever either the Conservatives or Liberals have the guts or the heart to tackle climate change head on.
They would rather lob softballs at each other than stand up and state what we all know. Climate change may not kill you, and it may not kill me. But unless bold actions are taken, it will kill what we value most: peace and security for our children and grandchildren.
If the Conservatives or Liberals form government, then some other voices need to be heard in Ottawa as well.
I know, because I saw it with my own eyes, that the most difficult problems in the world can be solved. But I also know, even though I was not quite born, that solutions take a leader.
Thank you to all the candidates in the upcoming Oct 21 election. I look forward to a leader on climate change solutions being elected here in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.