Elizabeth May visits Dal
Talk sponsored by Physics and Atmospheric Science
Nick Laugher - April 11, 2012
On the evening of Earth Hour last month, some Dal students booked some time to turn out the lights, or attend one of the several Earth Hour coffee houses being held in residence.
But a good number of green-interested students first made their way to the Scotiabank Auditorium to hear from environmental activist, Green Party Member of Parliament and Dalhousie law alumna Elizabeth May, who spoke at Dalhousie in an event sponsored by the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science.
Taking the floor to applause, Ms. May lauded the department’s efforts to bring her to Halifax for Earth Hour, before quickly turning her attention to the latest federal budget, which she said shows both an animosity and apathy towards the environment.
"Right now, we need everyone," she said. "Every single person who's ever felt passionate about the environment, or politics, or positive change. We need to band together and fight. The fight for the environment is weakening, we're rolling backwards. The new budget proposed by our government is an attack on environmentalism.”
Concerns about control
She then went on to dicuss, at length, the proposed Keystone Pipeline project and the Prime Minister’s insistance that it get pushed through, despite the violation of the moratorium on tanker traffic off the west coast and the unsafe transportation of toxic bitument crude across the country and overseas to China.
She also expressed concerns about the amount of control exercised through the Prime Minister’s office.
"When Tom Kent and Lester Pearson were in power, they had a couple of stenographers. Now the office controls everything. It's Orwellian. Their job is to control info. They closed Elsmere Island research lab, open to all countries, there is absolutely no mention of climate change in the budget. I saw ‘climate’ once but I think it was mentioning ‘investment climate.’”
She also took a number of questions from the audience, including one asking about her thoughts on a coalition government in Canada’s future.
"Once [Michael] Ignatieff got in, the Liberals walked away from it. I think it has potential though, we just have to work at it."
While much of the crowd was enthusiastic about Ms. May’s presentations, some students shared afterwards that they had expected less of a political talk and more of an environmental discussion.
“Stephen Harper was a democratically elected prime minister," said Marine Biology student Michael Schwinghamer. "What right does she have to run around comparing him to Mubarak's reign over Egypt? I think she's kind of overstepping her bounds."
Many, though, seemed energized by the talk, with several students joining Ms. May on a walk down to the Grand Parade Square for Earth Hour after the reception.
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