A blog by Alison Gu, a young organizer with Our Time Ottawa

When I told my grandmother at six years old that I wanted to be the first Asian woman to be Prime Minister of Canada, she asked what I would change first. I said I would change our public transportation system and invest in more electric buses. At the time, massive, empty, gas-guzzling buses at noon and overcrowded ones during rush hour seemed like the biggest challenge to address. It was also a problem that impacted people like my grandma, who didn’t have the resources or access to a car, the most.

While I now know that systems change and climate action is infinitely more complex, I’ll never forget why better public transit was so important to me in the first place — because a system that disproportionately failed the most marginalized among us, was a system that was broken.

By dreaming up solutions with me, my grandma showed me that she believed we could make it happen. Imagine if we believed in each other the same way. Imagine if we dared to dream of a system that worked for the many, and not just the few. Imagine if we rooted our systems, from public transit to how we generate jobs, in justice and fairness. And imagine a world where fossil fuel billionaires and their political allies were held accountable for their destructive actions. 

Here’s the kicker. Thousands of people across Canada have already come together to imagine what that system could look like. People from coast to coast came together and built a vision for a system that boosts our economy and invests in people and good, safe jobs. And that centers Indigenous sovereignty, racial and economic justice, and bold climate action. 

But a Green New Deal won’t be realistic without pressure on our elected leaders. This is why we need an entire debate dedicated to climate change, where our leaders have to prove that they have a plan to steer us away from the greatest threat of our generation. We are in a state of a climate emergency. And as our public broadcaster, the CBC has the moral obligation to ensure that the millions of people who tune in to watch the election debates know who has the courage to tackle the climate crisis. The CBC is mandated to cover national emergencies, and has the power and resources to host a debate. 

We need a federal leaders’ debate on climate because it’s shameful that a 6-year-old and her grandmother began imagining solutions to address climate change 15 years ago, while our political leaders only spent 15 minutes on climate change in the last federal election. That’s why I took action on July 17th with thousands of people across Canada to push the CBC to host a climate debate. And that’s why I’ll continue to take action until we get one.

Winning a climate debate during the October election is just one part of Our Time’s plan to win a Green New Deal for Canada. We are daring to imagine a system where it isn’t radical or extreme to want good jobs, clean air and water, and a livable climate. As Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in her inspiring video on the vision for a Green New Deal, “you can’t be what you don’t see.”

We know that the time is ticking to take meaningful action, and who we elect this election will guide us through four of the 11 critical years scientists have given us to tackle the crisis we are in. We have the vision, and now it’s our time to make it happen.

Photo Credit: Nhattan Nguyen