I wish to first congratulate you on your move within the Cabinet of the Government of Canada from Minister of Health to Minister of the Environment during today’s Cabinet Shuffle as initiated by your boss, and Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. It is a siginificant footnote in today’s environmental news and events.
And now with the formalities out of the way, I’d like to suggest that you have an awful lot of work in front of you and it may well be some of the most important work you will ever do in your life.
I suppose I should applaud Prime Minister Harper for selecting you in this role. As Member of Parliament for Nunavut, perhaps you more than anyone else in the Conservative caucus can visualize and testify to the effects of climate chage on Canada’s north. Nowhere in Canada at the moment are the effects of Climate Change being felt more than in your own backyard. The rapid shrinking of polar ice in the summer poses a significant challenge to the Inuit and to all northerners. It is probably something your constituents bring up with you at every possible moment and I’m sure that as an Inuit and a northerner, you are gravely concerned about how your cultural way of life is in jeopardy.
I know that this portfolio will present many challenges to you as there are members in your cabinet and caucus who do not see Climate Change as a priority…or possibly don’t even believe that it’s a problem at all. The long held belief that Canada’s economic strength is tied to our vast deposits of fossil fuels within your government will present a huge challege to someone like yourself who sees that with more carbon emissions come more challenges to your constituents. You will no doubt face a difficult fight to convince your boss and your fellow cabinet members that a shift towards a sustainable energy future is actually a wise decision and ultimately the move that your governmenet MUST move towards. I don’t envy you for you will be front and centre in a debate that puts ideology and economic allegiance against scientific facts and the moral imperative to protect the future of your citizens and your culture.
Ms. Aglukkaq, the facts about climate change are clear. What is also clear are the perspectives on Climate Change by the Inuit. With these realities close in mind, I would like to ask you now whether you will be driven in your new portfolio more by your party’s ideological resistance to tackle climate change, or by your cultural and first-hand viewpoint of how climate change is affecting the livelihood of your constituents?
Personally I view your appointment with guarded optimism. You will carry this portfolio into the next election and during a period of critical decision making for governments around the world. I only hope that you will be strong enough to fight for what is right and to force your government to wake up to the Reality of Climate Change and to move forward on firm and decisive measures that will deal effectively with the challenges we face.
I wish you the best of luck, and would be more than happy to meet with you in consultation on how to move forward protecting the environment while ensuring our economic viability going forward.