This editorial originally appeared in the Globe and Mail Newspaper.
I spent my elementary school years as a “landed immigrant,” living in the Leaside section of Toronto; my father, a journalist, was covering Canada for Business Week magazine. It was the late 1960s, and it was a pretty idyllic neighbourhood: We played marbles on the school playground, tobogganed on the (in my memory) massive hill at the entrance to Serena Gundy Park, gathered after supper for massive games of British Bulldog. I remember still the ache in my throat when my parents told us in fifth grade it was time to move back home to the States.
My first memory of those early weeks back in the Boston suburbs? Almost getting run over. In those days in Toronto, a kid could stop traffic at any point in a residential block – you just stuck out your arm, and it created an instant crosswalk. This, it turned out, didn’t work in the United States.
And for me, that simple gesture served as a useful metaphor for my idea of Canada for many years thereafter. Canada was more neighbourly and less individualistic than America; people took care of each other rather than simply pursuing their own interests. It helped me understand, say, the country’s health-care system or its foreign policy. I was aware that Canada had troubles, from a province that wanted out, to bad bouts of political corruption. But considering the turns that politics was taking in America, it still seemed to me different in some powerful, and powerfully attractive, way.
Now, I’m less sure. From a distance, it’s starting to look like the tar sands of Alberta, and the wealth they represent, are starting to do real damage to the country’s character. Recently, for instance, a Globe and Mail bloggerpublished a piece insisting that climatologist James Hansen and I were wrong about the new Keystone XL pipeline, that it wouldn’t dramatically raise carbon levels in the atmosphere, and that it was “the norm” for environmentalists to exaggerate the harm of these projects. In fact, there’s almost no way to exaggerate the trouble continued exploitation of the tar sands will cause.
Read more at The Globe and Mail.
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About the AuthorKarl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.
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