A man stops on his way to the top of what once was the Okjokull glacier, in Iceland, Sunday, Aug. 18, 2019. With poetry, moments of silence and political speeches about the urgent need to fight climate change, Icelandic officials, activists and others bade goodbye to the first Icelandic glacier to disappear. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

VAUGHAN: Elections Canada grossly limiting free speech by limiting climate charities

Climate issues and confirmed science must have a seat at the table regardless of personal views

It is unfathomable that Elections Canada would make the choice to warn charities that climate change advocation and donations may be viewed as partisan activity.

The discovery of the greenhouse gas effect happened in the late 19th century and knowledge rapidly increased of its effects on our climate beginning in the 1960s, culminating with overwhelming scientific consensus by the 1990s.

To suggest that Canadians cannot push for what they view as saving the planet during an election is Orwellian.

The agreed upon scientific fact by the overwhelming majority of scientists — not including those funded by industry and political think tanks — is that humanity is facing an existential crisis that threatens our global civilization as a whole.

To pretend that potential global catastrophe is not a political issue that must be discussed and advocated for by our leaders, simply for the benefit of a fringe party — Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party of Canada which is currently polling around 3. 1 per cent — who disagree with climate science, is irresponsible by Elections Canada and limits the potential for humanity to find solutions for a potential climate Armageddon. Bernier has since called the Election Canada decision “absurd”.

Clearly, popular opinion (which doesn’t represent scientific opinion) — particularly in the province of Alberta — is split on climate change, but most parties that have a realistic shot at ever forming government agree that, at the very least, governments should work towards being good stewards of the land we inhabit.

Politicians can agree and disagree on how we can take care of our earth, while still defending jobs, security and other issues Canadians value, but to limit discussion entirely and punish those charities and individuals who speak out with their voices and wallets as partisan is a limitation on free speech that all Canadians should be concerned about.

Climate change deniers are certainly entitled to their opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts and viewing climate politics as partisan is regressive, politically-correct doublespeak that stops our leaders from discussing global issues.

Saying Canada is not a huge contributor to overall global emissions is protected speech that is acceptable to bring up in a debate amongst adults; saying Canada does not need a carbon tax is protected speech that could be fair and reasonable policy; arguing that Canada can lead in climate issues through innovation could possibly be fair policy — but to limit discussion of climate issues and those who advocate for it by calling it partisan is simply bad bureaucracy that ignores the rights for all Canadians to express their concerns — both verbally and financially.

It is the job of all politicians to represent the will of their, or their potential, constituents and many Canadians certainly have personal doubts about climate change — especially when it comes to policy impacts on the economy and jobs, but climate concerns need to have a seat at the table.

Most Canadians, if they don’t agree on catastrophic climate change, at least agree that we live on a beautiful, natural blue ball that is worth protecting.

By viewing climate change and environmental issues as partisan, we are limiting free speech and doing a disservice to a world that deserves, at the very least, our attention.

FOR MORE: Politicians say elections law restricting partisan ads is ‘absurd,’ ‘lunacy’

FOR MORE: Elections Canada to assess ‘partisan’ climate change rhetoric case by case

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