McKenna encouraged by Give it up for the Earth! campaign

In 2017, as part of CPJ’s inaugural Give it up for the Earth! climate campaign, people from across the country took action to reduce their personal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and encourage the federal government to respond boldly to the global climate crisis.

This year we did it again! On July 17, a CPJ delegation – including board, staff, and campaign organizers – delivered over 2,500 postcards to an enthusiastic Catherine McKenna, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

The Give it up for the Earth! postcards were presented to Minister McKenna (third from the left) by grade six student Taya Lavictoire, CPJ board member Martha Wiebe, the Minister of Glebe-St. James United Church Rev. Teresa Burnett-Cole, and CPJ staff member Karri Munn-Venn.

Throughout Lent this year, people of faith in over 145 churches, high schools, and religious orders in more than 90 communities in all ten provinces, plus the Yukon, participated in Give it up for the Earth!

They sent postcards from Terrace, B.C., St. John’s, N.L., and many places in between, urging the Government of Canada to Give it up for the Earth! by ending all subsidies to the fossil fuel sector right away – and strategically investing the $1.6 billion saved annually in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and skills development, setting Canada on a course for a just transition to clean energy by 2050.

During the meeting with Minister McKenna, 11-year-old Taya Lavictoire spoke about her concern for the health of the planet and how she and her friends shared the Give it up for the Earth! campaign at their school and the broader Ottawa French Catholic school community, collecting nearly 300 signed cards. The Rev. Teresa Burnett-Cole, Minister at Glebe-St. James United Church Ottawa, reflected on her church’s participation in the campaign, and emphasized that it was motivated by the centrality of creation care in the Christian faith. CPJ board member, Martha Wiebe, who attends the Ottawa Mennonite Church, highlighted the interconnectedness of climate action and Indigenous rights, saying that despite the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action, the government continues to take a colonial approach.

Of course, the meeting also included a discussion about the incompatibility of the recent pipeline purchase with Canada’s climate plan, and the urgency of ending subsidies to the fossil fuel sector.

Minister McKenna heard our concerns and expressed gratitude for our efforts and appreciation to all of those who wrote in with their commitments to reduce emissions and call for more government action. Federal-provincial dynamics were named as the main barrier to more accelerated climate action. While she made no promises to set a course for the subsidy phase-out, the minister conceded that the government's current plan doesn't go far enough.

Ultimately, the Minister McKenna expressed hope that even more people would participate in the Give it up for the Earth! campaign in the future, and that all her Cabinet colleagues would be made aware of the significant support for climate action among Canadian Christians.

Karri is CPJ's Senior Policy Analyst.

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