Group con­fi­dent premier gets the cli­mate-change mes­sage

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ist says he’s pleas­antly sur­prised af­ter meet­ing with Le­gault

Montreal Gazette - - CITY - PHILIP AUTHIER pau­thier@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/phili­pau­thier

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.

DARIO AY­ALA FILES

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.

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