Dear Mr. Harper

Here's one of my favourite school projects I've ever done: a letter to our Prime Minister.

Dear Mr. Harper,

As a Canadian citizen, I believe Canada needs to live up to its agreement as signed in the Kyoto Accord. After reading up on greenhouse gas emissions and learning that Canada is the third worst polluter on the planet, I was shocked. I thought Canada was really advanced when it comes to environment and sustainability, but that’s when I realized that we, as everyday citizens are, and it is in fact our government that is holding us back.

I am only 17 years old, and I may not have quite the knowledge about these issues, but what I do know is that it is my generation that will be most significantly affected as a result of our careless actions. I have been fascinated growing up in this revolutionary era where social media, and the “green” movement are taking over. I have seen more businesses and companies taking on green initiatives, and more environmental organizations being uprooted than I ever could have imagined. Now when people think of Canada, we think of living in a democratic society where the people are represented in parliament, but I have a question for you. Why is it that we citizens are putting so much effort and passion into these movements, and the Canadian government isn’t acting upon it?

Recently I took a school trip to New York where I was amazed by the buzz of the city, but more dominantly disgusted by the horrible condition they’re in environmentally. It was during that trip that I truly realized how appreciative of the clean air, the forests, the mountains and oceans we have here in British Columbia. It’s all fine and dandy now, but what happens in the future when our astonishing natural world is destroyed by the apathy of our government? Then I will no longer be able to look outside and say I am proud to live in such an amazing country, because I will be so regretful of the fact that we could have done something, but instead we didn’t. And this is why we have to act, now.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that greenhouse gas levels are higher than they ever have been before; or at least what has been observed over the past 20 million years. Our earth’s average temperature has drastically increased too. This is definitely not a natural fluctuation; it is result of humans diligently burning oil and coal, and destroying forests. The current Kyoto round for Canada calls for a greenhouse gas emission reduction of 6%. Six percent really isn’t impossible to achieve. Yes, it will be a challenge, but I’ve witnessed an action plan much like this. During Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics, we reduced car traffic by something like 30%. Now we’re only talking 6% here, and if we’re not up for that challenge, than really what are we up for?

CTV News, the Toronto Star and the National Post have all named you as the “anti-environmental Prime Minister of Canada”. I don’t know how you feel about that title, but if I were you, I would not like that, and I would do all that is in my power to change that. The changes that could be done would not only help your reputation, but also the rest of Canada, and the entire planet.

You once said, “We think the deal itself, Kyoto, is simply bogus.” and in a sense, you are indeed right. Kyoto is just a tiny step towards sustainability; however, refusing to even take that first step guarantees failure. When George Bush refused to sign the Kyoto climate change treaty, Australian Senator, Bob Brown began to boycott U.S. oil. So indeed, there are significant economical advantages to Kyoto as well.

In relation to Alberta’s oil industry, many people believe if we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, people will be consuming less oil, therefore Alberta will sell less oil and make less profit. I however believe that is backwards, I believe the solution is to use more efficient cars and machines that use less oil, which means our natural resource, oil, will last longer, and remain generating revenue for a longer period of time. Oil prices will be able to be raised, because of the fact that their customers are saving money from using more efficient vehicles. In the long run, oil producers would make more money for the same amount of oil.

In terms of saving tax money, much of the ever evolving illnesses and diseases of our world are due to environmental causes. The reason for many of these new-found cancers are because of toxins in our air, water and food. If we take more care of our air, water and food, we could be spending less tax money on health care and medical treatments.

Since Al Gore, arguably one of the most influential people in this environmental revolution, won the prestigious Nobel peace prize, global warming deniers have quickly died off. After all the science, studies and research gone into it, it is almost impossible to deny the fact that this is a huge issue. This is why I get slightly frustrated when I hear comments from you like, “Let’s forget about this unworkable treaty… Kyoto’s never going to be passed.” and “Carbon dioxide which is a naturally occurring gas vital to the life cycles of this planet.”

Have you watched the news lately? There has been an abnormally high number of “natural” disasters. I put natural in quotations because they really aren’t that natural at all, they are the byproduct of our actions and decisions. They really are environmental disasters, not “natural” disasters. And you can’t tell me that these disasters that are killing thousands of people, destroying people’s homes and destroying our world, is something that we can just ignore. We need to take action, now.

One way or another, the decisions you make today will seriously affect the future of our country and world. And although you may not be here to witness the consequences, I probably will, or your kids, or my grandkids.

I as an active Canadian citizen would like to encourage you, Prime Minister of Canada to live up to the agreement as signed in the Kyoto Accord.

Thank you for your time and understanding.


Lisa Odland
high school student in North Vancouver, British Columbia


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