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A Good War


This is not a book about climate science. It takes the urgent science and the impacts of climate breakdown as a given. Rather, it is a book about politics, history and policy innovation. It takes as inspiration Canada’s Second World War experience and also finds encouragement from a few other countries that, unlike Canada, are starting to treat this crisis as the emergency that it is. I also draw heavily upon interviews conducted with politicians, academics, activists, Indigenous leaders, labour leaders and others.

I spend some time in the early chapters surveying the principal barriers to transformative climate action. But by and large, I choose to focus on what can be done to overcome these barriers. I believe you will find this an unusually hopeful book, given the subject matter.

Effectively tackling the climate crisis is not a technical or policy problem — we know what is needed to transition to a zero-carbon society, and the technology required is largely ready to go. Rather, the challenge we face is a political one. Climate solutions persistently encounter a political wall; the prevailing assumption within the leadership of our dominant political parties appears to be that if our political leaders were to articulate (let alone undertake) what the climate science tells us is necessary, it would be political suicide. And so they don’t.

This book explores whether we can successfully align our politics with climate science, and the conditions under which it may be possible to practise such a bold politics that is well-received by the public. It outlines what a truly meaningful and hopeful climate program can look like in Canada and makes the case for why our political leaders should embrace this generational mission.

Our sense of what is possible is contained by what we know. Hopefully this exploration of what we did the last time we faced an existential threat can serve to blow open our sense of political and transformative possibility.

Like many of you, as I read the latest scientific warnings, I’m afraid. In particular, I feel deep anxiety for my children, and about the state of the world we are leaving to those who will live throughout most of this century and beyond. All of us who take seriously these scientific realities wrestle with despair. The truth is that we don’t know if we will win this fight — if we will rise to this challenge in time. But it is worth appreciating that those who rallied in the face of fascism 80 years ago likewise didn’t know if they would win. We often forget that there was a good chunk of the war’s early years during which the outcome was far from certain. Yet that generation rallied regardless, and in the process surprised themselves by what they were capable of achieving. That’s the spirit we need today.


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Whose Water Is It, Anyway?


A Blue Community is founded on the understanding that water is a commons, a cultural and natural resource vital to our survival that must be accessible to all members of a community. Commons resources such as air, water and oceans, must be accessible to all members of a community. They are not privately owned but are held collectively to be shared, carefully managed and enjoyed by all. They are a public trust. Recognizing water as a public trust requires governments to protect water for a community’s reasonable use, and for future generations. As part of the commons, community rights and the public interest take priority over private water use. Public and community management of water requires transparent rules of access to water. Many private companies and industries need water for their operations but they must be subject to government oversight based on democratically agreed upon priorities for the use of local water sources.


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