In June, I joined other BC Climate Alliance members for a meeting with Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the BC Greens and MLA for the Cowichan Valley. This was my first lobby meeting, but as veteran members of the BC Climate Alliance team explained, it would hardly be typical given Furstenau’s strong efforts of climate action.
The day before I had watched a clip of Furstenau in the legislature as she questioned MLA Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, on his government’s increasing subsidies to oil and gas. I had seen her hold up evidence from Stand.earth’s latest report, and repeatedly ask the Minister why the NDP has doubled oil and gas subsidies since they took power in 2017, subsidies that are set to reach $1.8 B by 2023, when we know governments should instead support transitions to clean energy. Her heartfelt dedication and her sincerity was obvious. I could see that this issue mattered as much to her as it did to me.
At our meeting with Fursteneau, the BC Climate Alliance team expressed appreciation for all her hard work, and presented select points from our ‘ask’ - halting subsidies to oil and gas, stopping old growth logging, and giving more support to municipalities to implement local climate solutions. We discussed what progress had been made so far, and how we could be most effective going forward. She encouraged us to speak with our MLAs, to share our views, and ask how to support them to bring forward the climate policies we all know are needed.
When politics become polarized, I sometimes forget that our politicians are just people in our communities, that no matter what party they belong to, they have a responsibility to represent all their constituents. We in turn have a responsibility to let them know what we think, where our values lie. Our meeting with Furstenau reminded me that speaking with our elected representatives is effective. We need to let them know what really matters to us, and that we aren’t going to give up. Public support for protecting old growth forests, halting fossil fuel subsidies, and taking real climate action might be higher than ever before. With our MLAs home for the summer, back in our communities, we need to let them know those issues are going to remain important to us long after they drop out of the headlines.