A Saskatchewan woman traveled by bike and train to find a Prairie MP willing to push for a just transition in the House of Commons.

In October, Laura Stewart participated in a week of action organized by the Council of Canadians to demand community-led just transition legislation within the first 100 days of Parliament.

Organizers like Stewart gathered signatures to micro-requests to lead their deputies to keep up the pressure on the government and raise the question of a just transition act in the House.

But when Stewart asked Conservative Regina-Wascana MP Michael Kram if he would petition, the answer was no.

After reaching out to MP Kevin Waugh, chairman of the Saskatchewan Conservative Group (among others) and getting nowhere, Stewart decided to look elsewhere for support.

“The original thinking was just to have a face-to-face meeting with a MP who might be receptive and the closest would be Winnipeg,” he said. “But then I thought I didn’t want to just get in my car … For the sake of this trip, I wanted to try living in the world I want to see.”

So Stewart decided to travel to Winnipeg by electric bike and train.

Laura Stewart stands in front of the Regina Casino with her bike before setting out on the 150-kilometer bike ride to the nearest train station in Melville, Sask. Photo by Grant Gilchrist

She says that “complications kept coming” and highlighted the demand for the request for accessible public transportation across the country.

On October 23, Stewart embarked on a 150-kilometer bike ride to the nearest train station in Melville, Sask., But says he had to negotiate with Via Rail customer service to get his electric bike on board. . She was able to take the bike with her after removing the battery and leaving it in Melville.

A Saskatchewan woman traveled from Regina to Winnipeg by bike and train to put a just transition petition on the radar of Prairie MPs. He returned without firm commitments, but with high hopes. #Just Transition #cdnpoli

Stewart said these obstacles “gave me more determination and confidence and a feeling that we could do this on a social level, [that] we could tackle these obstacles one after the other rather than use them as excuses not to move on. “

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From Melville, he took the train to Rivers, Man., And then cycled to Brandon before catching a train to Winnipeg. Along the way, he met with climate activists and spoke to people about his mission.

Laura Stewart, a climate organizer from Regina, Sask., Rides her electric bike along the road near Edgeley on her way to Melville. The 150-kilometer stretch was the first leg of his journey to meet MPs in Winnipeg. Photo by Grant Gilchrist

On November 15, he had a face-to-face meeting with NDP deputy for the Winnipeg Center Leah Gazan to discuss the petition, achieving the goal of his week-long trip.

Gazan’s office would not confirm National Observer of Canada Yes, she will commit to filing the petition, but Stewart said she is pleased with the outcome of her trip and being able to take the petition to a parliamentarian and countless others along the way.

“The larger goal is to have waves of these petitions come forward in Parliament, and I am sure my trip will contribute to that,” she said.

A final challenge was presented on November 15, when Stewart’s train back to Melville was canceled due to flooding. With a blizzard making its way through the prairies and the next available train a week away, she decided to rent a car to get home.

“It’s a final underlining of how fragile and neglected our intercity public transportation system is,” Stewart said.

“We need to recognize that as we talk about how we will transition, the longer we leave it, the more difficult it will be because these disasters will continue to work against us.”

So far, 13 MPs have pledged to read fair transition petitions in the House, according to the Council of Canadians, and no more petitions have been delivered yet.

Rachel Bendayan, Liberal MP from Outremont, is one of 13 MPs who brought the petition to Ottawa and says that working in partnership with provincial and municipal governments is key in the fight against climate change.

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Liberal MP Rachel Bendayan talks about climate change with voters in front of the pond at Parc Outremont. Photo provided by Rachel Bendayan’s office

“I represent a driving that has wealthy families and individuals, but also people who are extremely vulnerable and who have two or three jobs that do not necessarily have the amount of money that it takes to buy an electric vehicle at the moment … that does not necessarily they have the means to always make the greenest decisions possible for themselves and their families, ”said Bendayan.

She says a just transition for her means leaving no one behind.

Ben Lobb, a Conservative MP for Huron-Bruce, also agreed to file the petition after one of his constituents approached him.

“There are things in the petition that I do not support, but as your deputy, I think it is my job to present the petition to the House on behalf of my constituents,” reads a quote from Lobb, provided by a member of the office staff in a telephone interview.

Petitions are one of the few ways Canadians can have direct input in the House of Commons, said Matthew Green, NDP MP for the Hamilton Center, who agreed to file the petition.

“Anyone who is following what is happening in Merritt, BC, what happened to Lytton, the continuing wildfires, floods, and general climate catastrophe (knows) that there must be a sea change from fossil fuels to an economy focused on the planet and not just the profits of companies in the oil and gas sector, ”he said.

Stewart says her trip showed her that “there is great support in the prairies for a just transition” and that she will be ready to get on with the work.

Natasha Bulowski / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer


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