Georgia Strait Alliance is the only citizens' group focused on protecting the marine environment in and around the whole Strait of Georgia – Canada's most at-risk natural environment, and the place where 70% of British Columbians live, work and play. We are committed to a future for our region that includes clean water and air, healthy wild salmon runs, rich marine life and natural areas, and sustainable communities.

May 3, 2011

The responsibility of power

There are a lot of reasons why I choose to bike to work. Primarily, I find it a fast and easy way for me to get around and get my exercise at the same time. But more importantly it gives me time to think, to plan for the day to come and process the day that was. It has served me well over the years but never more than this morning.

As I biked in on this sunny day, my mind tried to figure out what the Canadian electorate was trying to say last night. What to make of a night that elected the first ever Green MP, the first ever NDP Official Opposition – yet still elected a majority Conservative government? I know I’m not the only one trying to make sense of this, beyond what seems to me to be a very good argument for electoral reform.

While all this was going through my mind, so was the following phrase: with great power comes great responsibility. I’m not sure who first said this, but I think it’s something our new majority government should keep in mind.

Majority governments do bring stability to a country but they come at great risk if that same government uses its power to ignore the will of the majority who did not vote for them. Real leadership goes beyond partisanship and is about a vision for all Canadians.

As an advocate for sustainability and ocean health, I can say without a doubt that we have not seen leadership on environmental issues from the current federal government over the past 5 years. No comprehensive climate change action plan, no green energy plan or national transit plan, an erosion of environmental assessment regulation and continued failure to protect species at risk in this country, despite multiple federal court rulings chastising them.

What can we expect now?

The only answer is, time will tell. I am a pragmatist by nature, so I will spend the next four years focused on finding the best ways, and perhaps even some creative ways, to promote the sustainability of the Georgia Strait region. We must have the resolve to forge on because nothing is more important – for our communities and our economy – than clean air and clean water.

Some really good people – of all parties – were elected last night, and we must find ways to engage and work with them so they see the benefits of creating a green economy – and can help make it a reality. Naïve? Perhaps, but is there really another choice? The weaknesses of our political system cannot define our values, only our actions do – and last night many did vote for clean air and water. And in the end, in times of uncertainty when the choice is between despair or hope - I must choose hope. For my dreams of the future, I have no choice.