The Law, Society and Justice program welcomed speaker Thomas Mulcair
By: Jonathan Feist
The Law, Society and Justice Profile Student Association presented Thomas Mulcair, Member of Parliament for Outremont, to give a speech last Friday in the Dawson Theatre.
The nearly full auditorium listened as Mulcair spoke about the legal framework for sustainable development in Quebec. He was the Ministre du développement durable, de l’environnement et des parcs from 2003 to 2006, and the author of Quebec’s groundbreaking Sustainable Development Act.
Mulcair spoke primarily about the advance of the environmental movement, in particular the use of the term “sustainable development,” which he said is somewhat of a recent expression.
“The first warning cry was probably in the book Silent Spring,” he said, “when there is something seriously done about the environment, it’s usually with a leading force of women.”
Mulcair elaborated on this new notion of sustainable development, and how people are getting involved by realizing that everything is connected in life. “Today there are very few high school students that have not heard the word ‘ecosystem’,” he said.
The lecture focused on an important concept. There are regulations in place to make a positive difference towards the environment, but we must put pressure on the government to act on these rules.
“In Canada, it’s not so much that we needed new rules for the environment, but rather to have government enforce them,” Mulcair said.
The tar sands that we have in Canada are, according to Mulcair “the complete antithesis of sustainable development.” They are an example of how globalization and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) can have a detrimental effect on the environment and the economy, which we have been stabilizing since World War II.
Mulcair suggests to those interested that “unless you become concerned with this and get involved, they (government, multi-national corporations) are going to keep pushing you back.”
In closing, Mulcair stated that “the biggest challenge we have now is in the field of sustainable development. Right now, we don’t have a government that cares about it, but the public does. The developer with his hand in the pocket of political parties will always be calling the shots,” he said.
The conference ended with a solid period of questions and answers from the students and some staff members.
“It was pretty interesting,” Ivan Makhrov, third semester Law and Society Student said. “He supported really good facts and talked about very important problems that we have to act on,” he continued.