Provincial Macphail Award Presented to Local Member Linda Slavin

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By Alissa Paxton, Peterborough Provincial Women's Rep & Linda Slavin, Peterborough Lifetime Member

This past spring I had the pleasure of presenting the prestigious Agnes Macphail Award to my friend Linda Slavin.

The Agnes Macphail Award is presented by the Ontario NDP Women’s Committee to honour women in the party who have made significant contributions to the advancement of women and women’s issues.

In nominating Linda, the Peterborough NDP Riding Association Executive put out a call for letters of endorsement and received over 20 letters from organizations and individuals speaking to Linda’s tireless commitment to community development and social justice.

Linda is an inspiring presence whether as a principled candidate for public office, at the board table of one of the many community organizations she has helped found; or at a protest leading the Raging Grannies in song.

Linda used her acceptance speech at the Ontario NDP Provincial Council to challenge the party to prioritize the fight against climate change and make sustainability THE central pillar of NDP policy. I’ve included her speech below. After accepting her award, Linda led the entire Council in a rousing Raging Grannies’ song.

Linda’s Speech:

Many thanks to the Women’s Committee for their work in highlighting our history through the Agnes Macphail Award. Thanks too for the kind words of the Peterborough NDP Executive. The NDP has been a great community for me since the early 1970’s when Keith Wollard knocked on our door and sold us a membership. I do appreciate the honour but want you to know that, in Peterborough, this is not a prize to just one individual.

I have a family with resilience, strength and commitment. We work as a team and I couldn’t do this work without their love and support. A special thanks to them, and especially to my pal Al for over 46 years.

Peterborough is a community where people take responsibility for each other. The collective analysis and action on issues of concern is extremely powerful. There are more activists per square meter than in any other community I’ve experienced. Collaboration and cooperation has been built over the years. As an excellent example, the two Peterborough party members with me here [Alissa Paxton & Autumn Corvus] are involved in many other initiatives and exemplify why this award belongs to many Peterborough people.

Two news events over the past couple of weeks have managed to reach my consciousness in spite of the Rob Ford debacle, the Conservative crisis of accountability in the Senate and the robocalls judgment:

  1. A poll says that 64% - almost 2/3 of Canadians – believe that climate change is happening and believe that it is human induced.
  2. At a Raging Grannies appearance in a Grade 10 classroom last week I was introducing climate change and explaining the idea of 350 parts per million being a crucial level of CO2 when a young man from the back row spoke up quickly – “It’s just passed 400 PPMs.” He knew that 350 was the maximum CO2 concentration needed to keep global temperatures from rising uncontrollably. So far we’ve gone up one degree. Only one more degree is required before we face runaway climate change. No wonder he was concerned!

In the Antarctic, the melting ice fields could raise sea levels by up to two meters over this century. In the North, Arctic ice is melting so much faster that it might be gone as soon as 2020 – much faster than earlier predictions of 50 years. Without snow and ice cover, the reflections of solar energy back into space stops. The dark water and tundra absorb energy and warm up the Earth. That process will release methane trapped in the tundra; and methane is a much worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, leading to runaway climate change.

We know that the acidity in oceans has increased by 1/3 from CO2 and is leeching coral reefs, as well as threatening the survival of many marine species. Extreme weather patterns bring more flooding and drought – Bracebridge/Huntsville and earlier, Peterborough can attest to that damage. Yet carbon-producing companies already have enough fuel reserves that if burned, will produce five times the CO2 pollution needed to pass the critical two-degree temperature mark. We must keep most of these fossil fuels in the ground. Otherwise, Stephen Harper’s Action Plan for Canada will be our destruction.

If the change needed seems impossible, remember that industry in World War II was refitted for war production in less than 12 months. With political will, we can achieve the changes needed. A recent study from Cornell University shows that New York State could convert totally to renewable energy by 2030 and pay for it over 15 years with savings from the costs of health and global warming. I urge you all to watch “Do The Math” – a new video from 350.org

In summary:

Climate change is not just any policy but must be the defining policy of the next 20 years! How do we in the New Democratic Party approach this?

  1. First of all, I would urge the party to review all its policies through the lens of sustainability – based on the interdependence of the environmental, economic, cultural and social sectors of our communities and our province. Greening the auto industry is already underway in Denmark and other parts of Europe. We have skilled workers here who are up to the challenge. Green energy has up to seven times the employment level of the oil sands, for example. Social enterprise ensures a social benefit as well as a healthy bottom line. Healthy communities prove that large gaps between rich and poor mean financially and socially insecure communities.
  2. In Peterborough I co-chaired a community process which identified eleven priority areas with defined goals and priority actions. This sustainability plan was adopted by the city, the county, eight townships and two First Nations. Currently new members from the business and voluntary sector are being recruited . The plan is not revolutionary, but for the first time in the ten municipalities, the planning, culture, and utility departments, among others, are using the lens of sustainability. Official plans are being revised using the concepts and priorities. Working groups further our goals.
  3. Sustainability must be the foundation of our election platform with our policies connecting and mutually supporting sustainability. Youth understand how much this is needed. Seniors get it. No other party does. The planet needs sustainable efforts. We have no other moral choice.

In the words of the Raging Grannies:

CLIMATE CHANGE    (Frere Jacques)

WINTER'S WARMING (repeat)

SOON BE SPRING (repeat)

DRIVE OUR CARS FOREVER (repeat)

POLLUTION WE BRING (repeat)

NO POLAR ICE CAP

WEATHER GONE MAD

LET'S DRIVE OUR CARS FOREVER

IT CAN'T BE THAT BAD!

CROPS ARE DYING

SUN'S TOO STRONG

WE'LL DRIVE OUR CARS FOREVER

CAN'T BE WRONG

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

IT'S NOT FOR US!

WE'LL DRIVE OUR CARS FOREVER

STOP THAT FUSS!

DRIVE OUR CARS FOREVER

CON-SUME, CON-SUME                  

by Linda Slavin, 02/02

We know that individual action is not enough to stop climate change but we do have to recognize our over-consumption.

We do need government policies to change if we are ever to stop the real abusers of the planet – the carbon industry. Let us get together to make sustainability the central policy for the New Democratic Party.

Linda Slavin, 23/05/13

The Peterborough NDP is now working on writing a resolution to be presented at the next Provincial Convention that would direct the Ontario NDP to do just this. If you are interested in getting involved please contact us.

Links:

ONDP Agnes Macphail Award

Wikipedia - Agnes Macphail

350.org

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Showing 2 reactions


commented 2013-12-23 15:00:39 -0500 · Flag
Thank you
commented 2013-10-02 05:38:58 -0400 · Flag
Good article and speech with a great message. I fear that we’re already too late but I hope we’re not.