Kelowna town hall meeting attracts crowd pushing for action on ‘climate crisis’

Click to play video 'Green New Deal movement holds town hall meeting in Kelowna' Green New Deal movement holds town hall meeting in Kelowna
The Kelowna-based non-profit group Green Okanagan held a townhall meeting for the Green New Deal pact on Wednesday night.

Green has become the colour of not only a political movement but activism in Canada ahead of the fall election.

The Pact for a Green New Deal being rolled out across the country at dozens of town hall meetings, including one hosted by non-profit organization Green Okanagan in Kelowna on Wednesday night, is an economic and environmental initiative that mirrors a movement that has gained steam with social media savvy Democrat U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

READ MORE: ‘Green New Deal’ aims to transform the U.S. economy — here’s what exactly it means

The Green New Deal movement is Canada’s holistic answer to not only climate change issues, but jobs and social justice.

“At the heart of the Green New Deal is the idea that we can’t tackle the climate crisis in isolation,” local town hall organizer and Green Okanagan executive director Shayne Meechan said.

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“We hear that Canadians want to create a green future for everybody,” Meechan said. “It’s more than just about the environment. It’s understanding that we need to change our economic systems as well as tackle systemic issues of racism and prejudice against indigenous communities as well as systemic poverty and using the Green New Deal as a platform to tackle multiple issues facing our communities.”

READ MORE: Green New Deal sparks ongoing debate as Republicans label it economy killer

Meechan realizes it’s a lot to ask for, but said, “I know Canadians are passionate and up for the challenge.”

The rallying cry ahead of the brainstorming at the Kelowna meeting, where about 70 people gathered, emphasized their role as activists.

“We must ensure that the new world we’re building doesn’t recreate the injustices of our current system,” Meechan said. “The Green New Deal is an opportunity to ensure that we correct ongoing and historical harms and injustices and build a path that is better for all.”

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“It’s the only way to build the power we need to win.”

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Meechan encouraged the group to set aside differences and work toward common goals.

READ MORE: Study finds comparisons for future climate of Canadian, American cities

“The only way to do that is to make sure the vision we’re fighting for is one that people from different movements, communities and backgrounds are all inspired to unite behind,” she said. “A Green New Deal is a vision of rapid, inclusive and far reaching transition to slash emissions, protect critical biodiversity, meet the demands of the multiple crisis we face and create over a million jobs in the process.”

While the event wasn’t billed as a political rally, some participants understood the goal of the meeting was to help the movement put pressure on government.

“We are in a crisis. We have to change our country. We have to change our attitudes,” Heather O’Shea said. “There’s lots of solutions out there. We just have to force the people in power to do something about it.”

O’Shea heaped praise on the Prime Minister but said the Green Party would get her vote come the October federal election.

READ MORE: Guelph city council votes to ‘acknowledge a climate crisis,’ not declare climate emergency

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“The only way to get things done is to put pressure on the people in power like the politicians and corporations, bring in legislation and make changes,” she said.

Kelowna environmental and social activist Wes Kmet, one of the town hall participants, said the world isn’t taking the climate change crisis serious enough.

“We’re in a super emergency yet our politicians and our systems are treating it like just another news item,” Kmet said.

Meechan said more than 200 town hall meetings are planned in other communities across Canada.

The Kelowna meeting follows town halls in Salmon Arm and Vernon.