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Getting our feet unstuck

To The Editor,

There is an election, we are in the middle of it, and have heard the LONG list of commitments by the various parties.

Most of these commitments appeal to a group defined by how you slice the electorate: First Residents, by age, people of colour, sexual orientation, and so on.

There is one issue that affects everyone, has been addressed by all parties, a good start. It is climate change, the crisis, the emergency. All the parties have something to say about it in their platforms and have been quick to criticize the other parties’ policies. Meanwhile our feet remain stuck in the muck.

Climate change has a long history, yet no individual is directly responsible for it. But we have the responsibility to collectively support measures to deal with it. One thing is missing from all commitments I have heard. It is a necessary step, but I expect that no party would dare to utter a word about it.

While we may all have good intentions to do our part, the big question is how effective our intentions will be without strong incentives. I think not very, and suggest that mandates along with positive and negative incentives will be needed. Would land owners not clear cut forests without prohibitions and payments? Would we buy electric cars and scrap our fossil-fueled cars and trucks, or reduce air travel without mandates? And, there is a long list of other potential mandates.

One thing is very clear. What will be needed is bold, decisive, radical actions – loud, large, and urgent. We have seen these before during other crises. Consider conscription, food rationing, compelling industry to change what is produced.

But such an approach must have limits, restraints on the state’s power. This is the way we deal with market power within our economy. There are limits and regulations to restrain potential abuses.

I do not expect anything like this will emerge during this election. But, what I hope for is that the parties carefully start to think about what could and should be done, and how to do it.

John Henning
Chute-à-Blondeau

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