What this choice means for women, racialized and climate vulnerable communities

It was not the choice we wanted or the one we deserved. Despite the mid-career surge in support of Erin O’Toole from the Conservatives, Canadians chose the devil they knew. Justin Trudeau’s liberals managed to “snatch a stalemate from the jaws of defeat,” to quote Hamilton, the Broadway musical about the American Revolution.

It is a result that matches the mood of the moment for many of us who are left amid the carnage of the covid-19 pandemic, the scorched remains of the wildfires fueled by this summer’s heat wave, and the unmarked graves of indigenous children unearthed. No true triumph can be found, but at least we are still here to fight another day.

While the dust is still settling in a series of election battles all too close, the terrain does not appear to have changed much since 2019. One area of ​​lost ground worth mentioning is environmental justice. In addition to hampering the progress of Bill C-230 to address environmental racism by calling elections, the Liberals lost Lenore Zann, the MP who lobbied for the bill after working with Nova Scotia’s black communities.

The good news is that several Guide now and 350 Canada Climate champions – Leah Gazan of the Winnipeg Center, Laurel Collins of Victoria, Elizabeth May of Saanich-Gulf Island and Matthew Green of the Hamilton Center, for example – have been re-elected so far, maintaining powerful voices for climate justice for at least one more mandate. The big ground gained comes from the Greens, who got their first Ontario seat through Kitchener’s Mike Morrice. All eyes are also on the Vancouver-Granville race, where another climatic champion (Anjali Appadurai) is side by side with a Liberal rival for the former driving of Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Perhaps the best that can be said about this vain $ 610 million project for Justin Trudeau is that most Canadians once again voted for parties with stronger climate and equity measures than Conservatives, whose Platform 2021 It demonstrated a blunt refusal to acknowledge systemic racism, alarming plans to expand the fossil fuel infrastructure, and an ill-advised drive to eliminate the liberal-proposed national child care program.

I watched the election results roll in with my friend, Kathryn Colby, a community development worker who got her start in social work on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. For her, the status quo is simply a relief. Having witnessed the damage done by the conservative policies of the Harper era near the start of the opioid overdose epidemic, Colby told me that she is sure not to lose the recent momentum toward decriminalizing drug use or seeing climate policies roll back. .

The election is over and not much has changed. “Can’t find a true triumph, but at least we’re still here to fight another day,” writes @jessafia for @natobserver.

It’s an understandable sentiment from a frontline worker who helped distribute harm reduction supplies to a nearby indigenous community that was closed last year and who also helped make sure cooling centers were available to people with inadequate housing. during the sweltering heat of this summer. Our systems of care are grappling with a multi-headed hydra of systemic crises. Many of the people hardest hit by this were largely ignored by party leaders in the campaign, such as Black Canadians, Indigenous Peoples, and the LGBTQ2i + community. They are also the people who lead the movements and push for the necessary political solutions.

This choice was a signal for the Prime Minister to step forward or step aside. With his series of Promises of the “first 100 days”Liberals have given us an easy litmus test to assess their sincerity on some issues, such as legislation to ban conversion therapy, combat online hate, and institute paid sick leave. On keeping fossil fuels in the ground, reconciling and removing funds for the police, the voices of the movement will continue to be critical levers in mobilizing public accountability.

Political leaders don’t just need to get back to work, they need to get back to work together. This election was not a powerful example or test of our democracy. That will come today and every day after, when people (including opposition parties) hold the cabinet accountable, not only for electoral promises, but also for the rights that our government has a duty to uphold and the climate action necessary to keep us safe.

But what happens in Ottawa is not the end of everything. As Janelle Lapointe, an indigenous rights and Afro-indigenous climate justice organizer for the Stellat’en First Nation, told me, voting is just one tool in the toolbox.

Lapointe wants people to look beyond the ballot box and “see their interest in indigenous sovereignty.” That means spending time unlearning white supremacy, as well as building relationships with indigenous peoples and supporting their assertion of sovereignty, including against harmful oil and gas infrastructure.

“Being an indigenous person, I know that my ancestors and my people prioritized collectivism,” says Lapointe. “We exist among peoples that have knowledge and experience and intergenerational memories of community care, respect, reciprocity and sustainability.”

Canada has existed for 150 years, “a bump in time,” he says, so he is optimistic that Canadians can learn from the systems that indigenous communities sustained for centuries.

We are not starting from the starting point and there is a kind of quiet optimism in that. As the American writer Alexandra Rowland put it during the trump years“Whether the glass is half full or half empty, what matters is that there is water in that glass. And that is something worth defending ”.


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