It was Earth Day, the day after Finance Minister Joe Oliver’s budget failed to mention Climate Change, with no new money to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Oliver claimed that his Public Transit Fund, not fully operational until 2019-20 but kicking off in 2017 with a modest $250 million, will be a major contributor to fighting climate change because transport accounts for 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s only available for public-private partnerships and, in fact, according to an Environment Canada report in 2013, transportation only accounts for 23 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
The Raging Grannies gathered in Montreal on the steps of Christ Church Cathedral, and in several other Canadian cities, to make their point: To advance the interests of the oil and gas sector, the Harper government is ignoring the devastating effects of global warming — at our peril.
They were ten, including a couple of men, dressed up like grandmothers from a bygone era, but with a strong message displayed on placards and delivered in humorous song.
“Harper – You Can’t Muzzle the Grannies”
They opened with The Elephant in the Room, sung to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell: “The oil will never spill, the oil will never spill, never never speak of it, the oil will never spill,” goes one stanza. “The pipes will never crack,” goes another, followed by “The tar sands will grow/ by 32 million tons of new pollution, it will show.”
In another, titled “S–t Harper Did” and sung to the tune of Three Blind Mice, they chanted “Harper has to go. He’s brought the country low. He denies that tar sands pollute our soil. He just wants money from tar sands oil.”
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They awarded prizes for Fossil’s Fool of the Year, mocking our continued dependence on and expanded extraction of fossil fuels.
The first “candidate” was federal Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq, who also is Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and for the Arctic Council.
“She has maintained a policy of deliberate inaction toward the protection of our environment,” said Master of Ceremonies Helen Moore. “She blames the provinces for not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions. Her global strategy is to do nothing, accept no responsibility, and blame everyone else.”
The second “candidate” was Prime Minister Stephen Harper, under whose leadership “our greenhouse gas emissions have increased, unemployment of scientists has increased, the acreage of destroyed boreal forest has become as large as Florida.”
Harper was declared the winner. Moore, who has been with the Grannies for more than eight years, says there is “more and more need” for protest groups like the Grannies because “things are getting worse and worse.”
“Bad pollution, with this government, bad social situation, CBC cuts, librarians muzzled, to say nothing of the constant threat of war and actual war in various places.
“We worry about all this because our grandchildren are going to inherit this world and we’re living in it now, and so are they. It’s not good, and we’re trying to change it.”
The Raging Grannies began as a protest group in Victoria, B.C. 28 years ago and there are now branches in several Canadian and U.S. cities, Europe and Israel.