Fridays For Future Ottawa is organizing a Protest on Saturday, November 19 from 1:00 – 2:30 PM, meeting at Booth St and the Ottawa River Pathway. Here is the description from their Facebook event page:

“Doug Ford has decided to stop buying Quebec hydro power and build more gas-fired power plants. It makes absolutely no sense. We’re in a climate crisis!

Our provincial government is trying to burn more and more gas to power the province but is ignoring the idea of importing clean power from Quebec. This is completely unacceptable during a climate crisis. So, enter The Electrical Cord Protest! We’ll link Ontario and Quebec as we demonstrate and involve our community.”

Fridays for Future Ottawa asked me if any of my awesome Upstanders would want to write a quote for their press release, so I prepared a little lesson for my kids about this, had a great discussion with them, and got some awesome quotes. I thought I would share all this with you now so that you can better understand why this protest is happening …

Lindsey’s Lesson

(1) What is Hydro Electricity?

I started with this video to show the kids what hydro electricity is: Hydropower 101 – https://youtu.be/q8HmRLCgDAI

(2) What is Natural Gas?

Then we talked about some of the issues with Natural Gas – starting with this video: Why gas is being sold as green, when it’s not | It’s Complicated – https://youtu.be/cAFlYRcdi5o

There was a lot in the “It’s Complicated” video, so we then went over what we thought were some of the most important points:

• Natural gas is a fossil fuel and it is nonrenewable – it comes from a source that cannot be replenished over time, it will run out – at our current rate of consumption, natural gas reserves will last between 50-250 years
• Compared to coal and oil, natural gas does result in less pollutants – less CO2 emissions, but it produces more methane and methane traps 30x more heat in our atmosphere than CO2 over a 100 year period
• Natural gas is extracted using the same environmentally damaging techniques as oil

• Since the 1960s, oil companies have spent 100s of millions of dollars in advertising and PR to convince the public that gas is natural and cleaner than other fuels
• The campaigns continue today – but it’s no longer just TV advertising – they are now using social media too – one company spent $600k+ on Facebook and Instagram ads to convince younger voters to vote for the candidate that would allow their proposed billion dollar pipeline project to go through

• Other oil and gas companies have taken a more aggressive approach – when one politician in the US, Jose Javier Rodriguez, proposed a bill that would cut into the profits of one of the biggest power company in the US, the power company paid a candidate with the same last name, Alex Rodriguez, $45,000 to run against him at the following election – the tactic succeeded in splitting the votes between the two Rodriguez’s and Jose lost by 0.02% or 31 votes – and his bill was abandoned

• In New Orleans, when power company Entergy was being blocked from building a gas fired power plant, they paid a crowd of actors to speak in favour of the project at council meetings – it worked and the gas fired power plant was built

• All this effort – the greenwashing and PR – means that natural gas has been rebranded as a “transition fuel” – to reliably fill the gap until renewables can take over

• But none of this changes the reality that natural gas is a major pollutant

(3) What is Happening in Ontario With Respect to Renewable Energy?

Then we moved on to the specifics about Ontario and what Doug Ford is doing – starting with this article: Tories zap 758 green energy contracts in Ontario

These are the points we thought were the most important:

• In 2018, upon taking office, Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government pulled the plug on the projects in a bid to save $790 million.
• They said that they were unnecessary and wasteful energy projects and by cutting them, they would save families, farmers and small business money
• They would not provide a list of the 758 contracts that were cancelled nor how they got to the $790 million figure
• Most of these projects were related to green energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels
• One example is the White Pines industrial wind farm in Prince Edward County – which would cost ratepayers $100 million in penalties for cancelling – begun in 2009, it was nearing completion and was supposed to open that fall.

(4) What is Happening in Ontario With Respect to Natural Gas?

Then we discussed this article: Ontario must double down on energy storage to combat looming supply issues, says new report

These are the points we thought were the most important:

• They say they have to increase the use of natural gas to produce power to avert a looming power crunch that could lead to rotating blackouts.
• Because electricity demand is set to rise an average of 1.7 percent annually for the next 20 years – driven by economic growth, electric vehicles and electrified rail transit systems for commuters.
• Environmental groups and opposition parties said the government, first elected in 2018, should have seen this higher demand coming.

(5) What is Happening in Ontario With Respect To Hydro Electricity?

And, lastly, we discussed this article, which gets to the reason for this protest: Ontario will not renew electricity deal with Quebec

These are the points we thought were the most important:

• Ontario government will not renew a deal with Quebec to buy their hydro-electricity
• This seven year contract was originally signed to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions

As far as we could tell from our learning, the main reason Doug Ford is cancelling the contract with Quebec is because he would rather that we be autonomous – he would rather that we take care of our own energy needs within Ontario. This does not make any sense to us. This fear of cooperating and need to do everything for ourselves is very short sighted. The only way that we are going to get out of his climate crisis is through focusing on community care and collective well-being. We all share this planet, we are all interconnected and we need to work together in order to make things better. If we can get electricity from Quebec, without needing to build any new infrastructure, for a lower price, then that is what we should be doing.

Quotes From Kids

After all this learning, I asked if any of the kids wanted to write a quote for me to send to Fridays for Future Ottawa. This is what they came up with …

“Building more gas powered plants while we are in a climate crisis makes no sense! Think about the lives of others.” – Ruby, age 12

“Stop being greedy. Stop thinking only about money. Stop putting us children in dangerous situations.” – Emile, age 13

“How is money going to matter if we lose our planet?” – Claire, age 11

“Doug Ford, you are a fool, bro.” – Student, age 13

“Stop thinking of money instead of the planet. Money won’t matter. If we don’t do anything to help the planet, there won’t be one.” – Student, age 11

And my quote:

“We need our politicians to think about the future and not just money and votes. We need to take this climate crisis seriously. We need to listen to the scientists. We need to work together if we are going to save this planet (and ourselves). There is no us vs. them – we are all in this together, we will all suffer together if we don’t start taking decisions that will result in reduced emissions. If we can get hydroelectricity from Quebec, without needing to build any new infrastructure, that will result in lower emissions, and for a lower price, then that is what we should be doing.” – Lindsey Barr, Founder, World-Changing Kids