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Thousands participated in the March for Jobs, Justice and Climate in downtown Toronto, July 5, 2015. (Photo: Steve Russel/Toronto Star)

Thousands participated in the March for Jobs, Justice and Climate in downtown Toronto, July 5, 2015. (Photo: Steve Russel/Toronto Star)

'Now is the Time for Boldness': Naomi Klein, Notable Canadians Call for System Overhaul

Manifesto signatories, including David Suzuki and Neil Young, share the belief 'that it is possible for Canada to fight against climate change in a way that changes our country for the better'

Lauren McCauley

As the global community faces both an environmental and human crisis of epic proportions, a coalition of notable Canadians has declared that now is the time for a decisive "leap"—from a system of overconsumption, competition, and endless growth, to one of sustainability and compassion.

The Leap Manifesto, launched at a press event on Tuesday in Toronto, lays out a vision for overcoming some of Canada's—and the world's—most pressing issues, specifically the intersecting problems of inequality, abuse of Indigenous people's rights, environmental degradation, all on an ever-warming planet. 

"The Manifesto, bolder than anything on offer from the major federal political parties, lays out an alternative vision that would get us to 100 per cent renewable electricity within two decades — while building a fairer, more humane society in the process," declared author and activist Naomi Klein and husband Avi Lewis in a statement read at the launch and published at the Toronto Star on Tuesday.

The Manifesto was initiated this past spring in Toronto during a two-day meeting of representatives from Canada’s Indigenous rights, social and food justice, environmental, faith-based and labor movements.

The statement inextricably links the country's treatment of First Nations, including the troubling and historic abuse of Indigenous children, with the environmental movement, of which many tribal communities have been on the forefront.

Translated into eight languages, including Cree and Inuktitut, the statement "aims to gather tens of thousands of signatures and build pressure on the next federal government to transition Canada off fossil fuels while also making it a more livable, fair and just society."

Klein and Lewis, whose documentary film This Changes Everything premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday evening, are two of the initiating signatories of the Manifesto. They were joined by a list of artists, activists, and other Canadian luminaries including Leonard Cohen, Maude Barlow, Neil Young, Ellen Page, and Michael Ondaatje. The statement was also buoyed by a number of organizational endorsements, including from 350.org, Black Lives Matter Toronto, David Suzuki Foundation, Council of Canadians, and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

"All share a belief that it is possible for Canada to fight against climate change in a way that changes our country for the better — delivering meaningful justice to First Nations, creating more and better jobs, restoring and expanding our social safety net, reducing economic and racial inequalities, and welcoming far more migrants and refugees," Klein and Lewis continue.

The specific proposals including: halting any new fossil fuel infrastructure; shifting to clean energy jobs, transportation, and power sources; moving to a localized and ecologically-based agricultural system; and ending all corporate-friendly trade deals.

This call for "bold" action joins other campaigns which are focusing on a big picture overhaul of the global energy and economic systems.

Last week, climate action group 350.org launched their "Off/On" campaign, which, against the backdrop of the upcoming COP21 climate talks in Paris, seeks to pressure politicians with "mass action and divestment to keep turning off dirty energy, and turn on cheap, clean renewable power all over the world," explained Bill McKibben.

Supporters of the Leap Manifesto are spreading the statement online under the hashtag #TheLeap.


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