Canadian Senator calls for cross-party coalition modelled on Peers for the Planet
By pressing for ambitious and practical domestic policies that can be shared internationally and by drawing on the diversity, expertise and collaborative strengths of their members, upper chambers around the world have a critical and unique role to play in helping to achieve our common climate and biodiversity goals. Peers for the Planet is delighted to be collaborating with Canadian Senators as they explore the opportunity to create a cross-party coalition in the Senate, inspired by the work of Peers for the Planet.
Speaking in the Canadian Senate on the 4 May Response to the Address from the Throne, Senator Mary Coyle, Independent Senator for Nova Scotia (Antigonish), issued a call to arms to Senators to use the unique levers available to them to show climate leadership and to press for action, with the well-being of all parts of society as a guiding principle. An extract from Senator Coyle's speech is below and the full speech can we accessed above.
“Emerging from the COVID pandemic, we are facing a need to reconcile two once-in-a-century imperatives: One, accelerating our response to the climate emergency with the associated imperative of a just transformation and, two, the need to rebuild our post-pandemic economy. Both require focused attention on the well-being and the potential of our citizens: women, youth, Indigenous people, oil and gas sector workers, and other groups severely affected, while being mindful of equity across Canada’s regions. No one and no region should be left behind.
Honourable senators, that is a tall order and one which will require bold leadership and all hands on deck. It will take an all-of-society approach. And that means a role for us, too: Canadian senators stepping up.
With our Senate independence and free of the constraints of short-term electoral cycles, imagine what we could do with our combined grey matter, diversity of experience, power and influence. We have high-quality studies, inquiries, Question Period opportunities and motions. Most importantly, we scrutinize and, where necessary, work to improve or initiate legislation. Today, I would like to propose a new way we as senators could lead in climate action. This is what I’m about to tell you about.
Colleagues, last month I had a call from Baroness Helene Hayman, former Lord Speaker, and Baroness Bryony Worthington, lead author of the U.K. Climate Change Act 2008. They had learned about our net zero inquiry and wanted to discuss potential collaboration between our chambers. They are co-founders of Peers for the Planet, the U.K. House of Lords group launched last year with 120 members. Both felt there was more parliamentarians could do to tackle climate change, and they recognized the unique potential to work across party lines to win ambitious but practical changes in policies and laws regardless of which party is in government. Their collaborative, big-tent approach has yielded concrete results in a number of areas.
Honourable senators, I am impressed with the momentum and results Peers for the Planet have been able to build, and I’m proposing to you today that we start our own similar Red Chamber group focused on Canada’s pressing climate change response.
Fifty-one years after the first Earth Day, initiated by American senator Gaylord Nelson, and a year after the U.K.- Baronesses Hayman and Worthington launched Peers for the Planet, I am keen to work with you to formulate our own uniquely constituted and mandated Senate of Canada coalition for urgent climate action. Just imagine what we could do if we marshal our collective ingenuity and combine it with our unfaltering perseverance.
Honourable colleagues, if not us, who? If not now, when? Let’s do it. Who’s in? Thank you.”