Group confident premier gets the climate-change message
Environmentalist says he’s pleasantly surprised after meeting with Legault
He did not sign the pact but a fast-growing movement dedicated to fighting climate change believes Premier François Legault is on board in making the environment a priority.
“François Legault arrives here with a clean slate,” said Dominic Champagne, spokesperson for the movement following an hour-long meeting with Legault Friday.
“He’s not dogmatic. I think the environment was not a priority for him, but he admits (it is now) on Day 1. I thinks it’s a significant message. What we are asking is, ‘Can you renew this message in your inaugural speech?’ Visibly he is in the process of doing that.”
Champagne, a theatre director, is one of 500 Quebec personalities to launch a movement encouraging government and individuals to step up and fight climate change.
The Pacte pour la transition is a response to an appeal from the secretary-general of the United Nations that citizens mobilize to avoid the ecological disaster scientists now say is looming.
Launched Wednesday, the movement has had a spectacular response, with 120,000 — about 2,000 an hour — signing a pact to take action, Champagne told reporters.
The objective is a million signatures.
He said they asked to meet Legault after hearing his speech following the Oct. 18 swearing in of his new government. At the time, Legault said he got the message about the need to do more on the environment and climate change and would act.
Legault did not meet reporters after meeting with Champagne but later, using a tweet, said the encounter was constructive and the government “will be part of the solution.”
“I had no illusions about (Legault) signing the pact and I didn’t come here expecting he would,” Champagne said leaving the premier’s office. “But I am pleasantly surprised. We know the resistance. We know the strength of the (energy) lobbies.
“That’s why it’s very important that citizens continue to put pressure by signing the pact. Science is telling us we are living in a historic period.
“We are the ones facing the collapse of life on Earth. We are living in an absurd situation. By shovelling carbon into the atmosphere we are killing the world we live in.”
Champagne deftly increased the pressure on Legault too, saying this is his chance to shine; in a sense hop aboard the bandwagon to fight climate change that materialized in the last election, helping Québec solidaire elect its 10 MNAs.
He said he hopes to hear more from Legault on the question when the legislature resumes sitting Nov. 27 and Legault delivers his inaugural address.
“I dare say the premier will put science at the heart of decisions he has to make,” Champagne said, agreeing the CAQ’s current image is that it is more pro oil and pro car than pro environment.
Late Friday, Legault’s office announced three Coalition Avenir Québec government cabinet ministers would be participating in one of the many marches calling for action on climate change set to take place Saturday.
Environment Minister Marie-Chantal Chassé, Treasury Board President Christian Dubé and the Minister for Montreal Chantal Rouleau will join The Planet Joins Parliament (La planète s’invite au parlement) event taking place at the Place des festivals at 2 p.m.
Similar demonstrations are taking place in Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières, Saguenay, Cacouna, Gaspé, Maria, Ottawa, Rimouski and Val-David.
Representatives of the Parti Québécois, Liberal and Québec solidaire parties had already announced plans to participate in the Montreal march.
Among other things, La planète wants elected officials to recognize that the climate emergency and protection of biodiversity are the greatest challenges of our time.
They want government to reduce emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and ban new oil and gas exploration in Quebec.
Theatre director Dominic Champagne is one of 500 Quebec personalities to launch Pacte pour la transition, a movement encouraging government and individuals to fight climate change.