In the dark, early morning hours of October 16th, young climate organizers with the Our Time campaign spread out across Canada with a message — a Green New Deal could be ours, if we want it.
They handed out thousands of copies of a fictional newspaper called The Our Times dated to April 22, 2020 and telling a story about how Canada could rise to tackle the climate emergency. This was an election ad, not an actual paper, and was in no way affiliated with any publications.
The paper itself was designed to look similar to free Star Metro newspapers that people across the country pick up and read every morning because we wanted to suspend disbelief for a moment. We wanted to overcome the cynicism around bold climate solutions that is so common in our national discourse, and that has been repeated all throughout this election.
Every single day pundits, politicians and fossil fuel lobbyists flood us with messages about why we can’t tackle climate change at the scale that science and justice demand. Our biggest papers run advertorials disguised as news to package the latest oil industry spin for mass consumption. And, all election, we’ve seen and heard endless editorials, arguments, op-eds and articles about how listening to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change science is “unrealistic” or “impossible”.
But, it’s not. The truth is that tackling climate change will be hard, but it’s also a chance to transform our society into a more caring and compassionate one that works for everyone. In The Our Times we detail what some of this could look like — creating a Climate Corps to put tens of thousands of young people to work on a just transition, reopening shuttered auto factories to manufacture electric vehicles and creating a “No-Crown” corporation to end boil water advisories and solarize First Nations communities. And, we argue that if we elect the candidates who are going to champion those kinds of policies next week, this can start happening in a matter of months.
Our plan worked — a bit too well. The final copies of The Our Times were so similar to the Star Metro papers that the Toronto Star started getting calls asking why they’ve put out a special edition. For that, I’m sorry. We wanted to create a moment to dream together about the world we can win, not wreak havoc on reporters, journalists and editors at the Star — many of who provide incredible coverage of climate change and social justice in this country.
With that being said, I also can’t ignore that today, the Toronto Star’s editors endorsed Justin Trudeau and the Liberals in this election. Endorsing whoever they want is their prerogative, but when they argue that Trudeau is “putting the country on the right road to dealing with climate change” and forget to mention that we’re out of road to deal with climate change, you can understand why cutting through the noise to talk about real climate solutions is so important.