rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Blue Dot Movement rolls across Canada

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

As an elder, I've watched Canada and the world change in many ways, for better and worse. Thanks in part to cheap energy and technological growth, the human population has more than tripled, from 2.2 billion in 1936 when I was born to about seven billion today. As a boy, I could drink from streams and lakes without worrying about getting sick. My father took me fishing for halibut, sturgeon and salmon on the Vancouver waterfront. Pretty much all food was organic.

Although my parents were born and raised in Canada, our family was incarcerated in the B.C. Interior during the Second World War. Like other people of colour, my parents didn't have the right to vote until 1948. First Nations people living on reserves didn't have voting rights until 1960. And, until 1969, homosexuality was a criminal offence, often leading to prison -- now same-sex couples in Canada can marry. Without a health-care system, my parents had to worry far more about illness than Canadians today.

Although we've degraded our natural environment since my childhood, we've made great strides in human rights and social programs. But those advances didn't come without struggle. It's important to protect and improve the hard-won rights and social safety net that make Canada one of the best countries for citizens and visitors alike -- but it's crucial to protect the natural systems that make it all possible.

We're too often asked to choose between a healthy environment and a healthy economy, between health care and environmental protection. But these are false choices. Long-term prosperity and good health absolutely depend on conserving and using our resources wisely and on ensuring our air is pure enough to breathe, our water clean enough to drink and our food nutritious and plentiful enough to keep us healthy and alive. Protecting the environment is good for human and economic health!

Consider water. We can't survive without it. Most Canadians take our abundant fresh water for granted. But according to the recent Ecojustice report, Waterproof: Standards, "Canada's drinking water standards continue to lag behind international benchmarks and are at risk of falling even farther behind." At any time, more than 1,000 drinking water advisories are in effect across the country, many in First Nations communities. Canada doesn't even have a national water policy. Nor do we have legally binding national air quality standards.

People died in Walkerton, Ontario, because of E. coli in the water. Grassy Narrows residents are being poisoned by waterborne mercury. Toxins in the air and water are affecting people's health in Sarnia's Chemical Valley, as are a deadly mix of oil sands chemicals in Fort Chipewyan, Alberta.

This is clearly unacceptable in prosperous, resource-rich Canada. So how do we ensure that all Canadians have the right to enjoy clean air and water and healthy food? We could follow the lead of more than half the world’s nations and enshrine the right to a healthy environment in our Constitution's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

That's one of the goals of the Blue Dot Tour I've embarked on with the David Suzuki Foundation and friends, supporters and, I hope, you. It's a testament to the importance of this tour and the movement it intends to spark that so many musicians, artists and thinkers have volunteered their time to get the word out, including Shane Koyczan, Neil Young, Tanya Tagaq, Feist, Blue Rodeo members, Margaret Atwood, Hey Ocean, Bruce Cockburn, Joel Plaskett, Roy Henry Vickers, Whitehorse, Barenaked Ladies, Danny Michel, Kinnie Starr, Stephen Lewis, Ovide Mercredi and many more.

The events, in 20 cities across Canada, promise to be fun and entertaining, but there's a serious purpose: To start a national conversation and movement to make sure we all look after this land that gives us so much.

History shows that informed individuals who come together to build a groundswell of opinion and pressure are a powerful force for positive change. We hope this tour will inspire Canadians to take action in their communities, that those communities will in turn inspire provinces to get on board and that ultimately, our right to a healthy environment will be recognized at the national level.

It's a long road, but together, we can get there. Are you in?

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.