Barnes: How the grassroots drove Ottawa's climate change declaration

By Robb Barnes, Ottawa Citizen, May 7, 2019

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt once famously urged activists to push him to do the right thing: “You’ve convinced me. Now go out and make me do it.” Recently, Ottawa saw a version of this political dynamic.

On April 24, Ottawa Council voted overwhelmingly to declare a “climate emergency.” Along with the declaration, council agreed to intensify its response to the climate crisis in new ways – from fast-forwarding key pieces of analysis to keeping vulnerable groups in mind when designing its climate plans.

But notwithstanding the leadership of councillors such as Shawn Menard and Scott Moffatt, the climate emergency resolution rode in on a massive wave of community support.

For the first time in Ottawa’s history, 20 community associations from every corner of our city stood up to demand climate action. Each passed a neighbourhood-level resolution, acting as a kind of clarion call to their local councillors. Beyond this, hundreds of Ottawans took the time to call, write or visit their elected leaders.

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