Letter to the Editor: Mayors sitting on their hands on climate emergency

With reference to Sabrina Bedford’s article in the Recorder & Times “No Appetite for declaring climate emergency,” published Nov. 5, 2019, it must have been quite a sight to have witnessed the majority of the mayors of Leeds & Grenville with their heads buried in the sand while, at the same time, sitting on their hands. The overall viewpoint of these municipal leaders seeming to be not to declare a climate emergency, but to look at operational waste reduction. Wow!

Michele Andrews, Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford member, in her presentation to those assembled, asked the United Counties to join with over 460 other municipalities in Canada, declare a climate emergency and create a climate action plan.

With the exception of Westport mayor Robin Jones and to some degree Rideau Lakes Township mayor Arie Hoogenboom, the request was dismissed. It would appear, according to their remarks, that the remaining mayors are more concerned with semantics and impressions than reality.

Augusta mayor Doug Malanka appears to be more worried about how acknowledging the truth would affect the mental health of children rather than how climate change will, and is, negatively affecting both the health and the environment of those same children. Quoting Bedford’s quote of Mayor Malanka “I don’t want the counties declaring a global climate emergency. I don’t want to be adding to that.” Honestly now, what does that really mean?

Edwardsburgh-Cardinal mayor Patrick Sayeau doesn’t believe there is a climate emergency. According to Mayor Sayeau, “climate change is continuously, throughout time, it changes slowly.” This despite irrefutable scientific evidence to the contrary that climate change is escalating exponentially. Mayor Sayeau, the human body changes and deteriorates continuously over time as well; however, we can affect that process either negatively or positively by lifestyle and diet. The same goes for our environment.

For some reason, the majority of these municipal leaders are obsessed with the perceived consequences of acknowledging a climate crisis rather and the actual impact of the very real climate crisis itself. Unfortunately, for the very children they speak of protecting, they refuse to take meaningful action. There is no mention of there being a resolution, or a motion or even an anecdotal commitment. “Good idea” and “if” in politics mean absolutely nothing. These words give an appearance of action but are not action.

Residents of the United Counties I urge you to press your municipal representatives, including your mayor, to acknowledge climate change and develop an action plan.

Clinton Halladay
Elgin, Ontario