David Suzuki launches 'Blue Dot' tour hoping to alter Canada's constitution

Legendary activist recruits Obama strategist, Neil Young and Margaret Atwood to launch national effort to push for the protection of a healthy environment in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

David Suzuki - UBCIC meeting
David Suzuki speaking at the Union of BC Indian Chiefs' annual meeting on Thursday on Musquem territory in Vancouver -- photo courtesy of UBCIC

An aging David Suzuki will launch a national grassroots tour next week, using star musicians and an Obama political campaigner, in an attempt to motivate Canada to adopt a constitutional right to a “healthy environment”, the legendary enviro-activist said Thursday.

“So in the last years of my life – I know I’m in the ‘death zone’ – I’ve got nothing to lose.”

“I don’t worry about getting fired… or pissing people off, if it comes from my heart."  

"That’s what’s great about being an Elder,” Suzuki said with a smile to Aboriginal leaders at the UBCIC annual meeting.

“I’ve decided, with the energy that I’ve got left in me, I would like to travel across the country to create a grass roots movement.  We’re calling it the Blue Dot tour.”

“Blue Dot” is a reference to a famous 1990 NASA photo of Earth from Voyageur One.  The satellite was turned to take the photo of our seemingly tiny planet, just before it left our solar system.

“That’s our home.  That’s where every tyrant and dictator has spilled blood trying to gain a foothold on that little dot.  That’s where every lover, every poet, every singer, every human being whose ever lived, lived out on that little pale blue dot. 

“We got to treat each other kinder...because it’s the only place in the Universe that we know that supports life.” 

Suzuki said one-off victories against industrial projects, like Site C Dam or Northern Gateway, will not stop the march of economics towards further environmental harm to our climate, water and soil.

Constitutional amendment sought

What’s needed, he said, is a legally enshrined protection of the environment, no different than the right to vote.

“You might think that’s a crazy idea.  Bur our legal system is always evolving. Less than one hundred years ago, women were not allowed to vote.”

“Homosexuality was illegal – you could be thrown in jail for being gay – until 1969.”

“As you well know, aboriginal people couldn’t vote until 1960,” he told the chiefs’ assembly. 

“We believe it’s time for Canada… to have some kind of guarantee of protection for a healthy environment.”

David Suzuki, and the foundation that carries his namesake, will travel to 20 communities, starting in St.John’s, Newfoundland on Monday.  The tour ends Nov. 9 in Vancouver, and the day after in Musqueum territory.

Star musicians will also lend a hand: Neil Young, Grimes, Chantal Kreviazuk, Feist and Raffi.  Margaret Atwood and Robert Bateman will also make contributions.  

A calendar of coast-to-coast concert dates and events is online at: Bluedot.ca

Obama operative recruited

Supporting Suzuki, will be the political muscle of a key Obama campaigner, who helped the U.S. President take the battleground of Florida.  Suzuki said the Democrat strategist had successfully adopted a grassroots movement technique developed at Harvard University.

“Using that technique, Obama raised more money than Hillary Clinton did who went after the rich people.”

“It’s basically a chain letter.”

The idea is, have five staff spread out to five target communities, who then recruit six volunteers in those communities, highly motivated to spread the word and recruit more people.

Those communities are: Halifax, Montreal, Waterloo, Winnipeg and Richmond.

Richmond, B.C. was chosen for example, he said, because “the Chinese community has not really been engaged” in environmental issues.

In each community, citizens will be asked how would they use the law to protect the environment.  The hope is, the changes will start at the municipal level, and work their way up to provincial and federal levels, for an eventual constitutional amendment.

7 provinces needed for amendment

One First Nations leader said the task would be daunting. Altering the constitution requires seven provinces, representing 50 per cent of the population, he noted.

Another leader - First Nations Summit Grand Chief Edward John  -- said the biggest obstacle may be federal Conservatives.  He said that Stephen Harper has been to the Arctic nine times as Prime Minister, without spending much time talking to Inuit who’ve witnessed climate change’s toll on their fast-melting north.

Suzuki then reflected that after the next federal election: "maybe we’ll have a different perspective from the federal government.”

The long-time science broadcaster of The Nature of Things -- who was also voted as one of the "Greatest Canadians" -- hopes First Nations can be on the front end of a major environmental push, as they have been lately.

“I’ve watched with admiration the battle of Coastal First Nations against Enbridge’s proposal for Northern Gateway."

"My wife Tara went for years to every one of those communities… and in every one, the refrain was the same, ‘we need jobs.’

“They are desperate for some kind of income… and yet governments, as well as Enbridge, have offered these communities millions of dollars – and all they have to do is sign to allow the pipelines to go through.  Yet they are absolutely committed not to allow that.”

“I told [Alberta Premier] Jim Prentice this, I’ve told anyone who will listen – what they are telling us is there are things more important than money!”

“It’s about your history, your culture your way of life,” said an impassioned Suzuki.

UBCIC Grand Chief Stewart Phillip thanked Suzuki for his presentation, as well as his life’s work, saying he had left an “enormous footprint” in the struggle against “those who would seek to destroy planet for profit.”

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