The coast-to-coast campus tour “Students for Sustainability” stopped at Concordia University yesterday, with Stephen Lewis, Peter Robinson, and Brendan Brazie urging students to pressure the government to push through sustainability reforms.
Katherine Giroux-Bougard, national chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) – which initiated the project in concert with the David Suzuki Foundation and Sierra Youth Coalition – said the main goal of the project is to get the attention of government leaders.
“We want politicians to increase federal funding of public transit, invest in clean energy, and commit to sustainability on college campuses,” she said.
Brazie, a vegan Ironman, opened the event Wednesday and spoke on the negative trend of over-eating unhealthy food.
“The North American trend we see today is individuals who are overfed but undernourished,” he said.
Robinson, the CEO of the David Suzuki Foundation, highlighted the relationship between apathy and the lack of environmental activism.
“People fear the unfamiliar and [there’s a] resistance to change that crosses all cultures, professions, and geographies,” said Robinson. “While rising sea levels may not seem relevant to those living in Montreal and Toronto, to the South Pacific Islands in danger of disappearing, they are of the utmost importance.”
He also stressed the interdependence of the economy and the environment.
“A common question today is: ‘The economy or the environment?’ The reality is, there is no choice between the two. One cannot prevail without the other.”
Stephen Lewis, United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, was given a standing ovation for his talk on international atrocities spurred by environmental crises and called for immediate government action.
“Individual acts, such as eliminating water bottles and using the right light bulbs, are all valuable. But real progress requires government intervention…[such as] policies that will decrease carbon discharge,” he said.
While speakers troop between 21 campuses in 30 days, “Students for Sustainability” will continue petitioning the House of Commons to adopt measures to minimize the impact of climate change on the people and ecosystems.
The tour also urged students to make a well-informed decision when casting their vote in the upcoming federal election.
“It is likely that Harper will be forming a weak minority, which raises the question, ‘How will Canada be governed?’” Lewis speculated. “Change comes by voting politicians in and out of office. Here is the opportunity to put pressure on political leaders regarding the environment.”
The tour will conclude October 30 at the University of Victoria.