The Official Opposition requested a Standing Order 35 emergency debate on the response to the severe weather events that have hit British Columbia in 2021.
Both Sonia Furstenau and I stood to speak at this opportunity to address the significant impacts of climate change related extreme weather events.
I appreciate the opportunity with what little time we have left to just make a couple of comments. I’ve been listening to this debate with interest, and I heard a member here say that what doesn’t break you, makes you stronger.
I would have to say that from what I’ve heard from my constituents and people across British Columbia is that that’s just simply not the case. Many people are feeling very broken right now in communities in the north, south, east and west.
We’re not feeling stronger after what we’ve gone through in COVID-19. We’re not feeling stronger with what we’ve gone through with respect to the heat dome and the fires and now the floods.
We need some reassurance, as the members have been talking about, that the emergency response is learning from one disaster, unnatural disaster, to the next. They need to know and be confident that the government understands the decisions that we make in these chambers have very real implications on the life and well-being of the citizens, the flora and the fauna in this province.
They want to know that if we are going to be making decisions to invest in fossil fuel extraction, that we have a plan to deal with the impending climate impacts of those decisions.
They want to know that if we are going to continue clear-cutting the mountainsides of this beautiful province, that we have a contingency plan for the landslides that are inevitably going to follow.
Everything that I’ve seen is that people don’t feel stronger from the process that this government has rolled out. It’s like government after government after government has been rolling the dice, hoping that it will be the next government that confronts the particular challenge that this government today is facing. We need to stop rolling the dice.
We need to start putting in place the real mechanisms that are going to help British Columbians be resilient through the climate crisis, the climate emergency that we’re going to face.
That includes making sure that British Columbians know the information. They need to know it, when they need to know it, and they need to know where they need to go and when they need to go there. They need to be able to be prepared well in advance of an evacuation, not just mere seconds before they need to evacuate.
The challenge that is in front of this jurisdiction, in this House — this democratically elected chamber and every chamber across this country and, indeed, the House of Commons — is not a small challenge. It is a massive challenge. But it will not be embraced and we will not achieve it if we are not honest about the situation that we are in.
That is why I’m asking this government start with an honesty about the climate crisis that we are confronted with.
HÍSW̱ḴE SIÁM. Thank you.