We are asking the CBC to act on the climate emergency.
Tens of thousands of Canadians have asked the CBC to host an election debate on the climate crisis. The CBC has deflected our requests and neglected its responsibility to the Canadian public:
“As to whether or not there will be a debate specifically about climate change, that question is best asked of the Leaders’ Debates Commission.” (CBC spokesperson Chuck Thompson, quoted in “Tens of Thousands…”)
We are here today to insist that the CBC play its role in ensuring that the leaders’ debates do not obscure vital climate facts. It would be irresponsible to address the climate emergency as one question among many. There were 5 leaders’ debates in 2015 and only 2 scheduled for this election.
We are asking specifically for a leaders’ debate on the climate that includes a panel of climate experts. The panel’s role is to fact check leaders’ assertions and to explain to the public how each party’s platform will or will not respond to Canada’s climate emergency. It is crucial that expert opinion be part of the debate, and not simply left to an anti-climactic, post-debate debriefing. The exceptional nature of the climate threat and the present state of public discourse call for a novel debate format.
We look forward to the CBC’s considered reply to our petitions, to our letters and finally to our ongoing occupation of these offices.
The July 1st Collective
Unite behind the science
For over 30 years transnational fossil fuel corporations have undermined the public’s understanding of the climate crisis. At the same time, the landscape of investigative reporting has been clear cut. Staff at news agencies have been dramatically downsized. Outlets have been amalgamated under autocratic owners who have weaponized disinformation. Sensationalist disinformation and demagoguery have become the mainstay of right-wing broadcasting empires. In Canada and elsewhere, foreign governments have successfully manipulated social media discourse and disrupted the democratic institutions that inform the public.
The crisis in public discourse has led experts to recommend that debates be fact checked in real time. The Trump-Clinton debates were not fact checked in real time and that election process, with the ensuing Trump presidency, is a cautionary tale for all democracies.
An expert panel will have a sobering effect on leaders whose claims are scientifically unfounded. As well, the panel will add much needed expertise to the public’s understanding of the emergency. The climate crisis is a complex existential threat unlike any Canada has faced in the past. It requires a reshaping of our institutional practices in order to integrate scientists’ voices into the political sphere.
As a national broadcaster, the CBC is in a position to tell an uncomfortable truth and cut through domestic and foreign attempts to obscure it. A democracy stands or falls on the informed decisions of its citizens. At election time our national broadcasting corporation is the most trusted institution for engaging and informing the public.
The last 30 years have been a long period of dangerous appeasement. Fossil fuel corporations and other climate-change deniers have been allowed to mislead the public in the pursuit of their own short-term interests. Recent events make it clear that the climate is unmoved by our self-deceptions and unconcerned by the suffering caused by natural disasters. We are asking our institutions to have the courage to tell the truth, to unite behind the science and to face the emergency.
The July 1st Collective