Dalton McGuinty visits UWindsor to support battle against climate change
The former Ontario premier d his environmental concerns — and some possible solutions — with an audience of 50 at the University of Windsor’s Katzman Lounge at Vanier Hall Wednesday in a presentation he called Climate Change: Can We Win This? Be Honest.
After enjoying a six-year reprieve from the public eye following his 2013 resignation from both the premiership and his seat in legislature, McGuinty said he’s speaking out for the sake of future generations.
Humanity is not a lost cause
“I think more than anything else we owe it to our children and our grandchildren to come to grips with this,” the 63-year-old father of four and grandfather of just as many told reporters before starting his presentation. “We have a d responsibility to address climate change in a principled and enthusiastic way.”
Although a majority of Canadians from all regions and all political parties believe climate change is real and ne to be dealt with, McGuinty said, voters will ultimately put their economic wellbeing first. That’s why, when French President Emanuel Macron announced a fuel tax without accompanying it with rebates or tax credits, his citizens took to the streets in protest.
Embracing a revenue-neutral carbon tax is the “most effective, most efficient way” to demonstrate a commitment to tackling the problem, he said, using British Columbia’s carbon tax as an example. In 2008, the west-cost province implemented its price on carbon, which is estimated to have reduced emissions there by up to 15 per cent while encouraging clean technology and green job creation.
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A policy that returns more money to low and middle income earners than it initially took from them would be even better, he added.
“Going hard on climate change alone might get you into heaven, but it’s not going to get you into government,” he said. “The best leaders draw upon our deep conviction to always do right by the younger generations. And they need to call upon it now to mobilize us in the fight against climate change.”
Under McGuinty, who served as premier from 2003 to 2013, the Ontario Liberals made several environmentally friendly moves of their own: in 2005, the government created The Greenbelt, approximately 1.8 million acres of permanently protected natural land in Southern Ontario, one of the largest greenbelts in the world; in 2008, it banned the cosmetic use of pesticides; and in 2013, it closed the last of the provinces coal-fired energy plants.
Now, McGuinty sits on the board of directors for Innergex Renewable Energy Inc., a Canadian developer and manufacturer of hydroelectric facilities in the country.
“I can tell you as someone who’s part of the renewable energy industry that the world is about to invest trillions of dollars in new clean energy opportunities, and Canadians can lead or they can follow,” McGuinty said.
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“We should be helping other countries clean up their emissions, at the same time generating jobs and profits for Canadians,” he said, asking the audience, If Canada can’t lower its emissions, how can it expect other countries to?
“Humanity is not a lost cause. We do have the capacity and the will to make things better, and we have a record of real achievement,” he said, citing record low global infant mortality rates and record high life expectancies.
“My mother once said to me, you will only ever be as happy as your least happy child,” McGuinty told his audience. “I believe the fundamental driver of human progress since the dawn of humanity is the love and commitment on the part of the older generation to build a better, safer, happier generation for the younger generation.”
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