Text of Guy Hanchet Speech at Ottawa

Welcome to all, Grandparents, Parents, and Grandchildren.

I’m here from For Our Grandchildren. We’re a group of grandparents, and our mission is to Inform, Motivate, and Mobilize other grandparents to combat climate change on behalf of our grandchildren.

I am honoured to share the podium with these elders, and especially with David Suzuki, an honorary member of our Steering Committee.

I myself have two grandchildren and, like all grandparents, I love them, and want them to grow up in a safe world where they can be healthy and happy.

In 1965, three generations ago, the facts of climate change were first brought to US President Lyndon Johnson’s attention. At the time, the population didn’t understand climate change, and there seemed to be more important issues to worry about. In a democracy, leaders generally don’t act unless their constituents push them. And so, our leaders haven’t acted.

For 50 years, brave people like Dr. Suzuki, James Hansen, and Bill McKibben have done everything they could to inform the public about the facts of climate change, often against deliberate opposition from the oil industry.

They’ve done well, and we now see that our leaders are empowered to act and that they’re starting to take action. A victory, yes. But it has taken 50 years and all we have is recognition that the problem is real. Imagine, 50 years. My children weren’t even born, never mind my grandchildren!

This victory is huge, but it’s only one battle in a much larger war. We’re all here today to fight the next battle: what to do now.

There are hopeful signs that the world is moving in a positive direction, but not very fast.

That’s where the next generations come in, our children and our grandchildren. To push the world to move farther and faster. To get to 100% carbon neutral. To keep it in the ground. To stop developing the Tar Sands. To set a national integrated carbon price.

If the last 50 years are any indication, it will be a long, protracted, difficult series of battles, and I – and the rest of my generation – won’t be around to see victory. We have to cooperate between generations, to fight these battles together.

This cooperation can work well and I personally find it invigorating. For example, the bus from Peterborough, where I live, was shared by Trent university students and geezers like me. Our MP from Peterborough, younger than both my daughters, is at the Peterborough Climate March where other Trent students are helping with social media and bringing all kinds of creative energy and new ideas to our collective efforts.

When we started at For Our Grandchildren, we were working For Our Grandchildren, but now, the time has come to shift gears and to work With Our Grandchildren, and to be ready to pass the torch to our children so that the war can be won By Our Grandchildren.

Together we can be so strong and together we will win.

Thank you.

November 30, 2015, Ottawa

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