Updated: Jul 1, 2020
While working as a nurse in a remote BC First Nations community, Dona Grace-Campbell had the brainwave to plan a British Columbia road trip to meet with as many Members of the Legislature (MLAs) as possible. This northern community was an appropriate place for this idea to germinate – it would have been the coastal terminus for the recently cancelled Northern Gateway pipeline. Our first lobbying week was done under the umbrella of Citizens' Climate Lobby BC.
The lobbying days (May 7-9) started with two exciting events. Sonia Furstenau, MLA introduced us in the House, giving a shout out to our group. Then we watched the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategies announce legislation to set BC GHG targets for 2030 and 2040. Much of our first ask had been met. The next day we were able to meet him in person to discuss the measures needed to meet these targets.
Our small group of seven met with 16 MLAs and several staffers. This was possible because we held three caucus meetings as well as individual appointments. We had been advised by both of our local MLAs that to see as many MLAs as possible, we needed to offer a reception. So early one day we hosted a breakfast for the NDP caucus. That meeting generated some great discussion, and we ate the tasty leftovers all week.
We were able to meet with the Minister of Environment, four other Ministers, the opposition Environment Critic, and the leader of the Green Party. We saw a lot of enthusiasm across parties for real action on climate change. The discussion with the ministry responsible for oil and gas was challenging, but we made a good start, and will continue to work on pinning down the costs of BC’s fossil fuel subsidies.
The best part of the trip was learning what can be accomplished when climate advocates from different communities collaborate. As a final treat we got together with our fellow fellow climate advocates in Vancouver and shared pizza and stories. It was great to meet face to face with colleagues who we had met only through email and Zoom.
Coming home we thought back to the northern coastal community where the idea for this trip began, and that community’s struggle to fight against more oil tanker traffic. We were also reminded of how important this work is when we narrowly avoided very lengthy detours caused by the extensive flooding in southern BC, an area where the wildfire season is just starting again.