Our oceans need our politicians. In order to adequately protect and sustainably manage our ocean’s resources, we need national governments to be on board. The federal government has a tremendous amount of authority when it comes to ocean policy, so its stance on marine conservation often can be a large indicator of our ocean’s future. This is why it’s so important that government officials and candidates tackle issues like climate change, marine protection, and funding for research during their campaigns. Their constituents need to know how these candidates prioritize issues facing our blue natural resources so that they can vote accordingly and, hopefully, elect a candidate who values the future of marine ecosystems. In last week’s Canadian election, it appears as if the country has done that.
Canada’s Liberal Party candidate, Justin Trudeau, was elected Prime Minster Designate into a majority government. This means that the government will have the ability to create and pass legislation based solely off votes from the liberal party. Since the political system in Canada has five major parties, this doesn’t happen too often. Trudeau replaces Stephen Harper, who has long been a proponent of expanding the oil and gas industry. Additionally, Harper has come under fire for silencing government researchers and creating an educational funding gap for the First Nations.
Trudeau, on the other hand, appears to be more focused on education and science. The day after the election, the new Prime Minister Designate vowed not to stifle communication from and between government scientists. He also invited former opponent and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to the United Nations summit on climate change in Paris to ensure cross-party cooperation against climate change. Hopefully, these initial steps are just the beginning of an administration focused on protecting our oceans and ensuring a healthy global ecosystem for future generations.
And while federal governments can lead the way towards cleaner and healthier oceans, they need the cooperation of local governments and communities to succeed. And that’s where you come in. These government officials won’t know what you want unless you tell them. And, more often than not, they’ll listen. Andrew got in touch with his local and newly elected Member of Parliament to offer his expertise in science and ocean related issues, and within a couple of days she got back to him wanting to schedule a meeting. It can be as simple as an email, phone call, or, in Andrew’s case, a tweet to your local representative. That’s all it takes to open up a dialogue between you and your immediate policy maker. And once the lines of communication are established, you can help ensure that future politicians campaign for cleaner and healthier oceans.
Enjoy the Podcast!