Michael Ignatieff, June 2009 (re Liberal Policy on the Tar Sands)

Many of us in JustEarth were turned off by the Conservatives’ attack ads on you. Our group includes members of several parties, and of course members of none. We would prefer issues to be central to political choices.

We found it ironic that the Conservatives would attack your Harvard connection, when we have so much reason to wish to see more of the public intellectual.

The greatest issue of our time is climate crisis, with associated issues of disappearing resources, water and food scarcity, species extinctions and dying oceans. We would urge you to take a strong stand on dealing with it, specifically measures to achieve 25-40% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 based on 1990 levels, in keeping with the figures determined by the international scientific community.

We are appalled that you would support the tar sands project--the major reason Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising. For the sake of national unity! As if depleting an energy resource, wrecking local water and polluting the environment would unite Canadians!

Surely the least you should do is to explain how Canada can make the necessary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions we need, and continue with the tar sands. And surely an intellectual might give some thought to the irrefutable character of fossil fuels--that they are nonrenewable (short of geological time).

Human rights issues? What rights do future Albertans have? Future Canadians? Other creatures with whom we share the planet?

Our democratic institutions are failing us. Human rights are presently defined only for the here and now. Do you really believe that those of us who are alive now have the right to such profligate energy use, and to leave such a polluted environment to our grandchildren and other beings?