Oh, the outrage. Who knew that you need to swear to get the media coverage on climate change, even if indirectly? You'd think that the threat to human civilization itself would be enough.
And while Justin Trudeau quickly apologized to Environment Minister Peter Kent for calling him a "piece of sh*t," saying it was "decidedly unparliamentary," Twitter lit up largely in support of the outburst, tapping into a wave of anger across the country with many Canadians feeling deeply betrayed by their government for reneging on Canada's international climate commitments.
But we are now supposed to go back to being polite and ignoring our anger, to respecting rules of decorum, and to generally going along with the agenda of our duly elected government, even if that agenda involves undermining the conditions of life on Earth for our kids so that the oil industry can ramp up the strip mining of northern Alberta?
I have a five-year-old boy and, like all parents, I would throw myself in front of a bullet heading his way; yet somehow I'm supposed to suspend that instinct when it comes to climate change. I'm supposed to bide my time until the next election, hoping somehow that Canadian voters will not be duped by the multi-million dollar campaign of tar sands companies, and by the relentless spin of a government that has chosen to represent them rather than its citizens.
I'm supposed to bite my tongue when Peter Kent characterizes his dirty oil as "ethical," and roll over when his colleague Joe Oliver says that his government will not respect the "conspiracy theories" of the "unlawful people" who clearly don't want a new tar sands pipeline to the B.C. coast.
When scientists tell me that we are in deep trouble unless we quickly switch away from fossil fuels, I'm supposed to force this to the deepest recesses of my soul where it will not interfere with some oil executive's myopic definition of Canadian "nation building," despite the fact that others around the world are already looking at our nation and wondering how it could have gone so wrong.
All this, and we marvel when somebody like Justin Trudeau has an angry outburst? The more surprising thing is that we don't see it much more often, as the situation actually demands.
Part of it is our Canadian-ness, our hard-wired politeness, even when unwarranted. We may be just waking up to the fact that Ottawa is now being run by a group of people who don't themselves play by these rules, yet rely on the fact that everybody else does. They lash out and then smile to themselves when those they hit feel the need to apologize for the altercation. This is how they get their way.
It needs to end. We Canadians need to learn to be outraged by the outrageous. We need to learn that democracy is now a full contact sport that requires us to repeatedly raise our voices in order to be heard, and not to wait for our turn to quietly mark an X on a ballot once every four years.
It is only when our outbursts turn into a regular drumbeat that we will start to see the change that we and our children need. We each need to join in calling bullsh*t, and then actively pitch in to clean it all up.
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