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Catherine McKenna, there is a need for some single use plastics.

Dear Honourable Catherine McKenna,

I am writing in response to your many interviews and comments related to climate change and the Liberals’ climate policies, as well as your direct attacks on Canada’s oil and gas sector and the people who work in it, people like me.

Minister, have you even been to Alberta or Saskatchewan? Have you driven past an oil or a gas well? How much do you know about the sector and how much is made up of hype to support your climate change and economic ideologies? You don’t talk about the good things the industry doing, such as reducing emissions. Your sole focus appears to be on shutting down the oil and gas sector.

There is no doubt that we need to treat the planet better and we all have a collective responsibility to do our part. I have travelled to various countries where there are old cars spewing pollution, unmanaged mounds of garbage, and sewage running freely, but because many people live in dire poverty, they can’t make improvements. They don’t have the same luxuries we do in Canada; they’re using all of their available resources to survive.

I am in favour of limiting single-use plastics. However, I want any legislation implemented logically and pragmatically without all of the rhetoric and hysteria you and your government are famous for.

I know you don’t have a full list of banned plastic products yet, so I am wondering when you think that might become available to the public and what we might expect to see on it other than straws, cotton buds, fast food containers, drink stir sticks, plates, cutlery, and balloon sticks. Doing a quick inventory of my bathroom counter and medicine cabinet, I have 36 plastic containers, and that does not include what’s in my make-up kit which would number about 50 pieces of single-use plastic. Nor does it include things like shampoo bottles, shower gel containers or toothbrushes. We consume a lot of plastic in Canada. Banning single-use plastics by 2021 is going to be a monumental task. Maybe we need to start by limiting the use of the plastic credit card we use to buy so many of these things?

The Liberals are “only looking at bans where there’s an affordable alternative”. I’m interested to know what you think could replace single-use plastics and how your government’s policies will ensure these alternatives are both available in time for the 2021 ban and affordable? For example, I bought laundry detergent in a plastic bottle for $5.99. The same size bottle by an eco-brand in a paper container cost $17.99. I don’t think ordinary Canadians are going to find that kind of price difference to be an acceptable alternative. It may be available, but it isn’t affordable.

I know you have touted that “economic analysis shows there’s a huge opportunity for businesses” because we throw out a staggering $120 - $150 billion/ year in value by not reusing plastics. I would like to know the source of this figure. But more importantly, if, as you claim, only 10% of plastics get recycled, and you will make manufacturers pay to recycle 100% of their packaging, what do you anticipate that will cost businesses? Ultimately, those costs will fall to consumers.

Knowing how innovative Canadian business owners are, I’m confident that they will find ways to address the plastics issue and make money at it. However, I’m concerned that any benefits the government gets from these businesses will be lost, mainly because the Liberals have pledged to invest $100 million to address plastic waste in developing countries.

You also speak of tens of thousands of job opportunities in recycling and innovation. Could you please elaborate on what these jobs will be and if they will be publicly funded?

You can’t just yell louder and repeat yourself to make people believe you. You must influence behaviour with your own actions, otherwise you lose credibility. Therefore, I must ask -- what are you personally willing to sacrifice to solve your alleged environmental problems? What are you currently doing to minimize your emissions and plastic consumption?

As you have said, extremism is real. You are living proof. To shake people out of their climate change lethargy, you are becoming more fear-inducing, frenzied and hysterical. Your comments are terrorizing people. We have all seen videos of young children crying out of fear that the human race is going to go extinct in a few short years. Imagine yourself as a young child living in fear of dying every single day. It’s time to bring back hope by being honest and sharing balanced information.

Have you reviewed the work by the American scientist that researched climate change and extreme weather, Roger Pielke Jr? He found that climate change was not leading to more damage from weather after factoring in increasing population and economic activity in areas where storms are prominent. Even the IPCC agreed with this scientist’s findings back in 2007. He claimed last year that there is no trend in extreme weather events. There’s no trend in US hurricane landfall or intensity. There’s no evidence of increased flooding globally. There’s no trend showing an increase in global droughts. Even though members of your government and your leader keep going on TV saying that there is a direct correlation between climate change and extreme weather events, the scientists are saying there isn’t a trend. Who are we, the general public, to believe? I don’t know. I’m not a climate scientist, but neither are you and the propagandists. If you aren’t familiar with the article published in the Financial Post, here is a link.

To add to the confusion, there are also the 90 Italian scientists that have come forward recently to say that CO2’s impact on climate is being unjustifiably exaggerated. Here is a link to a translated copy of their petition. Again, I ask, who and what are we to believe?

Next time you want to criticize the fossil fuel industry and its workers for being hell-bent on destroying the planet, please check your biases and make sure what you’re saying is accurate. Make sure it’s really true, and not just something West Coast Environmental Law or Stand.Earth or some other radical group like that made up to serve a political agenda. Leaders need to be visionaries, but it’s imperative that their visions are grounded in reality.

Please note that I will be publishing this as an open letter, so any responses I receive will be shared to help voters make an informed decision in the upcoming election.


Deidra Garyk

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