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Kaeleigh Phillips

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“Let’s Talk Housing” report leaves many wondering what’s next

Affordable housing in Canada is in a state of crisis. Every year, more than 150,000 Canadians stay in an emergency shelter and 35,000 people are homeless each night. Considering the housing problem across the country, what is the federal government doing about it?

On National Housing Day on Tuesday, a report was released by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), based on of four months of consultation from 7000 Canadians. The report detailed various themes including affordable housing, indigenous issues, and funding of the housing strategy from a variety of stakeholders.

Though the report discussed a variety of important issues in Canada, it didn’t describe any concrete solutions to the housing crisis currently plaguing the country. It laid out a variety of housing issues that need to be solved, and was vague in scope when providing answers. The long-awaited report from months of consultations mostly gathered data from the online survey that was provided, which also asked vague questions such as whether low-income or sustainable housing was more important. It is now clear that the report seems to be more of a tool of distraction than to actually begin the process of providing affordable and sustainable housing solutions.

The report assessed how Canadians feel about housing across the country, which is useful for research though doesn’t begin to solve concrete housing issues. Social housing renewal, which consists of paying to fix current social housing, was ranked in the top four themes in every province and territory except Yukon, where it was instead voted as the least important issue. ‘Housing that contributes to Canada’s climate changes goals’ was ranked as the least important theme across the country. Interestingly, the survey response rate in Alberta and B.C far exceeded the overall population proportion where as in Ontario and Quebec it was the opposite. This indicates that the western provinces had a more responsive population per capita than Ontario and Quebec. Finding housing for vulnerable Canadians was voted as a top issue and will be a key commitment in the coming housing strategy.

Unfortunately, in the ‘Next Steps’ section of the report, little was offered to the public as to which ideas will be adopted. Instead, the 10 year housing strategy is due to be released in 2017 in time for the federal budget. This leaves many affordable housing associations in a limbo in the meantime while they wait for the government to make final decisions on which strategies will be adopted under the housing umbrella. The #letstalkhousing campaign and the resulting report left many disappointed because of its lack of direction towards next steps for the future of the housing crisis in Canada.

As a housing and sustainability reporter, it is frustrating to see how slowly the federal housing agenda is moving in developing a 10-year strategy. Homelessness and a lack of low-income housing is a key issue and needs to be a top priority in Canada. Immediate solutions are needed such as providing the much needed $1.7 billion to begin fixing homes that are falling apart under the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) and allowing municipalities to use dedicated funding to finding new housing solutions now instead of next year.

Though consultations and public participation are important, it should be a priority to make concrete decisions alongside collecting data instead of waiting so long to start making changes for Canadians desperate to find homes. The housing crisis needs to be dealt with in a more timely fashion, and hopefully in the meantime cold Canadians on the street can keep themselves warm with the pages of the housing report.

Want a natural way to get rid of menstrual cramps?

For most women, menstrual cramps are a terrible experience. It can feel like you are being torn apart from the inside out. For myself, it is as if my hip bones are being pulled in two opposite directions and my lower legs go completely numb. In other words, it’s hell. In these moments, all I want to do is sink into a pile of chocolate and cozy blankets for a few days, but alas I must continue through the daily grind.

Unfortunately, most of us can’t simply stay home and wallow — we have to continue working and living our lives. Traditionally, women have used herbs to help with menstrual cramps before drugs become available in convenient little pills. Medications don’t always relieve all of the pain or symptoms associated with our time of the month, so why not try some natural remedies. They worked for our ancestors and they will work for us.

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One of the best herbs for cramps is ginger. It is easy to find in grocery stores and is known to soothe menstrual cramps as well as aide in bloating. Simply shave a few slivers of ginger and place into a cup of boiling water with a spoonful of honey and a splash of lemon. Having a mug of homemade ginger tea nightly will help alleviate menstrual pain substantially.

Halloumi salad with fennel, croutons and pomegranate.
Halloumi salad with fennel, croutons and pomegranate.

Another option to help ease cramps is fennel. Fennel contains anethole, which is a compound that helps to ease pain. There are many ways to eat fennel both raw and cooked, and it has a celery-like texture. Slice the fennel into thin pieces and add to a salad. Use the leafy fronds (the top of the fennel) to add to salad. You can also cook chopped fennel and put it in a delicious tomato fennel soup. Roasted fennel is simple, but delicious if you like the liquorice taste.

Cherry tomato and sage pasta.
Cherry tomato and sage pasta.

Another herb that has truly magical qualities is sage. Along with helping menstrual cramps, it also lifts the mood and increases memory. Sage goes well with asparagus and can be added for extra flavour in a variety of Italian pasta sauces. It also pairs well with pineapple. Sage tea also helps with sore throats and in the summer, frozen sage in ice cubes makes a refreshing drink during your menstrual cycle.

Common pain relievers can have negative health side effects for some people, and natural remedies can provide an alternative. By incorporating ginger tea into your evening routine and sage into your pasta sauce, some of the symptoms of cramps may be alleviated. Any solution to helping get rid of cramps is a welcome one, and using herbs is surely a delicious way to get rid of pain.

Leonard Cohen through a millenial’s eyes

How do you encapsulate the life and career of a Canadian icon that defined generations of poetry and music lovers?

Pouring over years of interviews, poems, songs and cultural tidbits, the task of writing an ‘Ode to Leonard Cohen’ becomes overwhelming. As a millennial writer, how could I possibly do the poet and singer-songwriter justice? I struggle to find the proper words to express how culturally defining and life-changing Cohen was for aspiring Canadian writers and singers. But then again, once upon a time Cohen was a young man too before he captured the world with his magical words.

Cohen was a young aspiring writer who graduated from McGill with his B.A, just an aspiring poet, like so many I sat and dreamed with in my own poetry classes in university. He was a dreamer who had a gift — and he changed the world. Suddenly, the man behind the song ‘Hallelujah’, which has been performed by over 200 artists, doesn’t seem so difficult to write about after all.

Cohen approached the world with fearlessness, pursuing his writing career despite other paths he may have taken. His first book of poems, Let Us Compare Mythologies, was published one year after he graduated from university in 1956 and didn’t fare very well. He pursued studies at Columbia and a variety of temporary jobs until publishing The Spice Box of the Earth that was well-received. Cohen could’ve given up after his first attempts at being a successful writer, but persevered. Imagine a world where he would’ve chosen otherwise and the likes of his novel, Beautiful Losers, or the poems from Book of Longing may have never been produced.

Cohen was a Canadian icon because he continued despite all obstacles. Moreover, he was described countless times throughout the years as a humble man. To be humble and successful is definitive of a cultural genius in my mind, and this sets a fine example for millennial writers looking for an example to follow. When asked about his own work, Cohen famously said, “I never had a plan. I had a certain kind of faith…if the work was good enough or, more specifically, if the work was appropriate to move into the world, it would move into the world…”. His persistent conviction allowed Cohen to create freely without being bound to a sense of greed or power.

Many Cohen fans were surprised with his move into music, and he was even discouraged from pursuing a career as a singer because he was getting into his 30’s (noticeably older than other first-time performers of the time). Again, Cohen ignored criticisms and followed his passion for music, leading him to produce hits such as ‘Suzanne’, ‘Bird on a wire’ and ‘So Long, Marianne’. His singing career spanned 50 years beginning in 1966 with Songs of Leonard Cohen to his album You Want it Darker released before his death on November 7, 2016.

Cohen teaches Canadian millennial writers and musicians to never stop believing that your passions and dreams can come true. With dedication, focus, passion, persistence, and stamina, anyone can achieve greatness. Cohen came out of a generation where Canadian singers and songwriters were often pushed aside by American contemporaries, but he never let that stop him. Instead, he used his Canadian identity as an emblem of greatness and even had a brief love affair with Janis Joplin along the way.

Cohen described his love of Canada often, and he really led the way for other Canadian writers and musicians. “I do love Canada, just because it isn’t America and I have, I suppose, foolish dreams about Canada. I believe it could somehow avoid American mistakes, and it could really be that country that becomes a noble country, not a powerful country,” he said.

If you are ever stuck for inspiration in the creative process, I urge you to follow a series of simple steps. Grab any Cohen volume, plug in New Skin for the Old Ceremony on vinyl, make a cup of coffee and open your heart to the world through this rare man’s eyes. Cohen will be missed by many, but he truly lives on in the hearts and minds of young Canadian writers and music lovers everywhere.

‘Ride responsibly’: CondomTO campaign winners are announced

What would you want to see on your condom wrapper? How about ‘wrap your willie’  or ‘no glove, no love’? The possibilities are truly endless!

Cue Toronto — the city that likes to keep up with the trends. Toronto not only has it’s own condom designs, but also holds a contest so that residents can design their own. This year’s winners of the CondomTO contest were recently announced by Toronto Public Health. Over four hundred people submitted condom designs, and only 10 finalists were chosen. The top four condoms will be passed out at various health centres in the city, and the two top-choices will receive a cash award, and a year’s supply of their condoms. They will also get to choose a health organization to donate their condoms too.

The judging process was really serious, and focused on the quality of design, originality, and a focus on themes relevant to Toronto. Because that’s what everyone looks for in a condom, am I right?!

There were two separate “categories” with a winner and a runner up in each one. Here are the best designs:

Put It On Toronto by Diane Adams. Photo provided from condomTO, Toronto Public Health.
Put It On Toronto by Diane Adams. Photo provided from condomTO, Toronto Public Health.

The Open Grand Prize winner, Diane Adams, is a graduate of Seneca College’s graphic design program and won with a design that featured ‘put it on Toronto’. Adams has over 15 years’ experience in graphic design and has worked for Rogers Communications, Kia Motors, and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Ride responsibly by Serge Leshchuk. Provided from condomTO, Toronto Public Health.
Ride responsibly by Serge Leshchuk. Provided from condomTO, Toronto Public Health.

The Open Runner-up, Serge Leschuk, a social media strategist and content creator in Toronto, designed a condom that focused on Toronto transit saying ‘condomTo- ride responsibly’. Leschuk is self-taught in design, writing, and video production.

No transfers by Andrea Por. Provided from condomTO contest, Toronto Public Health.
No transfers by Andrea Por. Provided from condomTO contest, Toronto Public Health.

The Student Grand Prize was won by Andre Por, an advertising and graphic design student at Humber College. She designed another transit-inspired condom that focused on the design of Toronto’s subway transfers to demonstrate how condoms help stop the transfer of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). Por is a previous Fine Arts graduate from Queen’s and began her Graphic Design diploma in 2015.

Condom LuberJack by Janine Thomas. Provided from condomTO, Toronto Public Health.
Condom LuberJack by Janine Thomas. Provided from condomTO, Toronto Public Health.

The student runner-up, Janine Thomas, is a fourth year student in the Bachelor of Design program at York-Sheridan and designed a Canadian-themed condom that said, ‘cover your lumber, Jack’. Thomas is a fourth year student and has a passion for typography and dogs.

A condom contest is a stellar idea for Toronto, a city known for it’s rising STI rates (isn’t that what every city wants on its resume?). But, why stop there. Wouldn’t it be great if Toronto also had a design contest for tampons or pad wrappings? It’s the same region, so why not go there! It would be a great way to dismiss the stereotypes and stigma associated with the act of menstruation. Plus, a little added humour does wonders for the PMS.

Women’s Post hopes CondomTO continues to host this contest on an annual basis. Sexual health is something that is not taught enough, and using fun designs on condoms is a great way to encourage its use. Plus, they are just hilarious. Who knows what people will come up with next year. Until then, have fun, but remember ‘cover your lumber, Jack’, okay?

Land Transfer Tax Refund for first-time homebuyers is a small change

Instead of implementing grand-sweeping changes in the hot housing market, Ontario will commit to helping first-time homebuyers who are struggling voraciously to purchase homes in Toronto.

Ontario will double the maximum Land Transfer Tax Refund to $4,000 for eligible first-time homebuyers as of January 1, 2017. This means there would be no Land Transfer Tax on the first $368,000 paid for a first-time home. This will help people who were unable to purchase a home due to rising property costs and taxes.

Along with lowering the rates for first-time homebuyers, Ontario has decided to raise the rates of one- or two-bedroom single-family residences over $2 million to 2.5 per cent. This would mean that home buyers in the over $2 million market would pay an extra $5000 on average, which is affordable for the many buyers in the upper echelon. The funds raised from the rate increases would be used to fund the first-time homebuyer’s initiative. The refund was announced as a part of the 2016 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review.

The Land Transfer Tax Refund has been met with mixed reviews, many citing it as a soft approach to a larger issue. The housing market in Toronto has been in the hot zone for several months and creating more opportunities for first-time buyers does little to cool the market in the larger metropolitan centre. Though Vancouver’s foreign buyer’s incentive was a bit high-handed, the Land Transfer Tax Refund is the complete opposite and accomplishes very little.

The Land Transfer Tax will benefit first-time homeowners outside of Toronto due to inflated prices within the city boundaries. The average price for first-time homes outside of Greater Vancouver and Toronto is $361,000. Alternatively in Toronto, prices were 19 per cent higher than last year’s.

Though the refund will do little to help the heated markets in Toronto, any little bit to aid first-time homebuyers to compete in Toronto’s housing market is welcome. Even if the homebuyer will spend more than $365,000 to purchase in the city, a rebate on the Land Transfer Tax will help homeowners to save money initially and use it to keep up with hefty mortgage payments thereafter.

Helping first-time homebuyers and increasing taxes for wealthier homeowners is a smart move, but broader strokes from Ontario may be the only way to cool the Toronto housing market. Providing affordable housing and hitting density targets is also an important step, like looking into zoning bylaws at a municipal level and allowing for laneway housing. Housing is one of the most difficult files in Ontario’s fiscal review and the housing sector awaits with bated breath what future options the ministry considers.

Embracing the quiet of November

Winter is cold and formidable, with seemingly endless dark days mixed with the dread of venturing out into the windy snow-blown streets. On the other hand, it is also a time of quiet thought, where the snow creates a peace that summer has never known. Saying that, my favourite month of the year is November. The ushering in of winter is also a silent reminder to take space and revere in silence is a blessing in disguise, something we all tend to forget in the warmer months.

As the longer nights settle in to stay and the clock turns back for the winter ahead, I’ve always felt a change of pace in November. People seem to push each other less on the subway and there is something absolutely adorable about everyone donning their winter layers and looking strikingly penguin-like.  I believe with our inherent connection to Mother Nature and the earth we live in, most of us experience a sort of metaphysical pause when the fall fades into winter. Whether it be drinking a slow coffee at the shop instead of rushing out the door with an iced latte or writing in a journal by the fireside, the elements force us to consider how vital it is to slow down and relax every once in awhile.

Even the land reflects a more relaxing setting for breathing deeply and sleeping in that extra five minutes. The leaves fall from the trees and orange, red, and yellow fade from the landscape only to be replaced with a snowy landscape and a beautiful grey and purple sky. If you luxury of a skyline view of downtown every day at work, you can see the mauves and blues of this sky hinting at winter, and reflecting against the buildings. The November city skyline glitters with silver and purple, and temporarily I can forgive the sun for not showing her illustrious golden hues.

Instead of fearing the emerging winter cold, pull your scarf close and take a deep breath of the fresh air. After you do that, grab a coffee and walk down the street while wearing fuzzy red mitts from Hudson’s Bay. Listen, and what do you hear? Nothing but the sleeping sounds of a city retreating for a moment to relieve itself from the hustling and bustling of spring, summer and fall.

This is also the perfect time to reflect on the year that has passed, the memories you made this summer and the love you felt. It is also a time to nurse your heart from being broken if it had been, and forgive yourself for your mistakes. In these moments, you can also dream about your future. What will the next year bring? Who will you meet? Where will you be at this time next year? Before the Christmas craziness takes over and the winter hustle and bustle begins, drink in the meditations of sweet November.

Embrace the quiet of winter for a moment. You won’t regret it.

Woman of the Week: Jo-Anne McArthur

Photography can be a tool for change — there is no limit to the difference a powerful image can make. Animal rights photographer Jo-Anne McArthur has taken this medium to a new level by using her DLSR camera to take astounding photographs of animals in various states of suffering. She has gained attention worldwide for her courageous work, and her investigative journey was also featured in Liz Marshall’s documentary The Ghosts in our Machine.

“It is unforgiving work. I am trying to make art out of the atrocities,” McArthur says. “If I produced shitty images, people aren’t going to look. How are you going to look and not get people to turn away?”

McArthur’s job is difficult, no doubt. She is forced to get up close and personal to each and every animal, and then has to walk away from the suffering in order to keep doing her job without legal litigation. Not to mention, many of the photos that McArthur take are in hard-to-reach places that often keep animals in terrible conditions.

“Most commonly, I am sneaking onto a property at night with a security team. We know when people are coming and going,” McArthur says. “I never break or touch anything. I will climb a fence if I have to and document — whether that takes half an hour or six hours.”

McArthur says her most difficult photography shoot was with minks held in cages, because of the low lighting and confined space. The cages were quite small and the mink are often trying to protect their young. Photoshoots like these make McArthur feel devastated, especially when she has to walk away without interfering. A photography shoot involving a lone elephant is one of her worst memories on the job. “The saddest thing I’ve seen was an elephant named Jeanna in France. She does fuck all except walking in circles and swaying back and forth,” McArthur says. “It was devastating to see this girl who has been alone for 15 years. They should re-home her, give her sanctuary, and give her enrichment. Seeing her once was bad enough, but then I come back the next day and she is doing the exact same thing. Why isn’t the world screaming about her being there? I take photos, but I feel inept.”

After years of working in the trenches of animal rights investigations, McArthur found herself suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  “I was doing too much time in the field. It is natural to need a recovery period from traumas. I felt I was invincible and I was not. My first thought when I woke up in the morning was mink or gestation crates,” McArthur says. “I had therapy to help me process what I had seen I was thinking of the utter sadness of animals in captivity all the time. I had to relearn the basics, eat well, and sleep well. I annoyingly tell activists to eat, sleep, and have sex. If we are not joyful, we are not healthy and we need to joy to advocate for animals. I got used to seeing the sadness. When people ask me if I’m desensitized, I want to say no. To go there emotionally, it is not productive.”

Along with being a leader in animal rights activism, McArthur is a huge supporter of women. She began an initiative called the ‘Unbound Project’ with Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Brock University, Keri Cronin that features women in animal rights activism around the world.  “Over many years of doing animal rights work, I saw that it was women on the front lines. There is often men at the top for optics, but women are really the dominant sex in this movement,” McArthur says. “I’m doing the Unbound Project because I see that it is women that lead the movement, and I want to celebrate that.”

McArthur has been fascinated by animals since she was a child. She says that many people get into animal rights to change the world, but for her it was a different story. “Even as a wee kid, I would feel sad for an animal. I took action because I was worried,” McArthur says. “My parents allowed me to express these concerns and act on them.”

An avid reader as well, McArthur is currently reading The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. She also recommends Aftershock by Patrice Jones for women going through PTSD. She has also published her own book, We Animals.

After having faced so many countless atrocities, it is a wonder that McArthur has hope in the future of the world we live in. She says that living with hope is the only way to stay positive. “I certainly have moments of despair, but that is not where I live. I live with a focus on change, and with every person I reach, that is a victory. I choose to live hopefully instead of despairingly or I wouldn’t be able to do this shitty work I do.”

Here is a sample of some of McArthur’s work and you can find more animal rights photographs here:

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”3″ gal_title=”Photos by Jo-Anne McArthur”]

Is Ontario moving towards clean energy?

What is Ontario’s position on clean energy?

The province has been one of North America’s leaders in clean energy, but lately has been demonstrating that clean energy may be less important than saving a few quick dollars. It appears the province may be advocating for clean energy and climate change initiatives at the same time they are cutting budgets involving green incentives.

Ontario is now launching its third Long-term Energy Plan (LTEP), which will be released in 2017. The various regulations and laws in the Clean Energy Act (originally launched in 2009) is daunting to sort through. Alternatively, the Planning Ontario’s Energy Future lays out the current state of energy in the province today pretty clearly.

The Clean Energy act was closely followed by the LTEP in 2010, and was updated in 2013. The newest version of the LTEP is set to reassess clean energy goals set in The Climate Change Action Plan. Ontario promotes clean energy and when considering electricity, it is growing green. In the report, Ontario specifies that it has approximately 18,000 MW of wind, solar, bioenergy and hydroelectricity on-line or under contract. Ontario electricity production in 2015 consists of 58 per cent nuclear energy, 10 per cent natural gas, 23 per cent water, nine per cent solar/wind/bioenergy and no coal production as of 2014. Clean energy has increased in the last 10 years, but more work is left to be done.

Comparatively, clean fuel is moving much more slowly. Ontario residents use fuel for heating, transportation, electricity generation, and industrial production. It also provides energy for the production of plastics, fertilizers, and chemicals. Currently, natural gas is the leading fuel type at 36 per cent. Wood and biomass is at three per cent, which has only grown two per cent since 2006. Coal is also still used as one per cent of fuel, despite the fact that one of the most unsustainable energy sources and has since been abandoned as a source of electricity in the province.

This is significant because three quarters of homes are heated by natural gas, which is substantially cheaper than electricity. Though electricity is moving in a green direction, fuel distribution still remains as a central energy source. Ontario has set conservation targets for natural gas, but has yet to push Ontarians to move way from relying on this fossil fuel in their homes. It comes down to a question of building the infrastructure to provide renewable energy to homes effectively and efficiently. The infrastructure has been designed to carry natural gas into homes, and it is an expensive but necessary undertaking to move away from fossil fuels entirely.

Instead of tackling how to heat homes using renewable resources, Ontario decided to move in the opposite direction. The government recently decided to suspend the second round of Large Renewable Procurement, which is the green investment funding that supports large renewable energy contracts, which will apparently save taxpayers $3.8 billion in electricity system costs. This stops more renewable projects from going forward, but it will save residents $2.48 on their monthly energy bills. The initiative ultimately prevents more biomass producers from producing fuel, wind and solar from growing further, and keeps some of the less environmentally fuel sources in place.

Ontario has ambitious climate change goals to lower carbon emissions by 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030 and 2050. Suspending important renewables contracts and pushing forward natural gas infrastructure is not a promotion of clean energy. Biofuels need to be used to heat homes.  Overall, the province needs to pick a side and stick with it.

Public consultations are being held across the province and online throughout the months of October and November as Ontario reaches out the public to help build energy’s future.

Recipe: Post-election pity popcorn

If you are feeling blue about the election results and need a comforting treat (to be enjoyed while watching a distracting rom-com or a healthy dose of Gilmore Girls), homemade caramel popcorn with nuts will do the trick. Here is the delicious Canadian alternative that uses maple syrup — designed to cheer up any weary soul awaiting doomsday now that President Trump is in power.

Ingredients:

2 cups popping kernels

½ cup maple syrup

1 cup nuts of choice (slivered almonds or cashews)

A dash of cinnamon

Dash of sea salt

1 ¼ tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Begin by making homemade popping corn. It is easy and much cheaper than buying the packaged popcorn full of unnecessary additives. Simply place three kernels and a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil in a pot and heat on medium-high. Once they pop, remove from the heat and fill the pot with the remaining kernels. Cover and count to 30 seconds before placing back on the burner. Shake the pot while the kernels pop and remove from heat once the popping slows. Place the popcorn in a pan.
  2. Slice almonds or cashews and toast for seven to ten minutes.
  3. In another saucepan, heat maple syrup until it is boiling. Once boiling, let the syrup boil for two and a half minutes and remove from heat. Don’t let it burn! Pour onto popcorn and sprinkle with cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt.
  4. Optional: add cranberries, coconut shavings or chocolate chips for an extra kick.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for six minutes. Add roasted nuts and enjoy!

All it takes is a few layers of absolute sugary sweetness to get rid of the post-election blues. Plus, it gets rid of that nasty case of the munchies too! Enjoy!

The environment is screwed with Donald Trump as president

If the environment wasn’t under imminent threat before, it most certainly is now that the United States elected Donald Trump as their newest president.

President, Donald Trump (I can’t believe that string of words in now a reality) has proposed to cancel President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, threatened to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, and famously claimed in a tweet that climate change was a ‘Chinese Hoax’. Trump’s various claims do not bode well for the planet and its future.

So what does Trump’s presidential win mean for the environment? Essentially, it means that the planet is in peril.

Trump represents an American ideology that focuses solely on the economy at the expense of lowering carbon emissions. At a conference in Bismarck, North Dakota in May 2016, he supported oil fracking and also stated he would minimize the U.S commitments to the Paris Agreement. The U.S is currently the second largest producer of oil and Trump’s agenda to push fossil fuels even more will increase carbon emissions tenfold. He hinted that the failing oil economy can be resolved if the United States exploited the lands that have been previously considered off limits, including the Outer Continental Shelf. He also wants to push more production in the non-renewable energy sector. This would be a short-term solution and would harm the economy, not to mention the environment, in the long term. By over-flooding the energy sector with more oil through fracking, it would further lower the value per barrel of oil and would decimate even more land that is already threatened in the United States.

Trump has publicly stated several times that he would wipe Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was a fruit of labour for the democratic president. Within the Clean Power Plan, the environmental protection agency (EPA) gave each state the power to decide for themselves how to lower carbon emissions in power plants by using renewables or nuclear energy instead of carbon pricing. States were supposed to submit plans by 2016-2018 and would start cutting emissions by 2022 at latest. The EPA estimated that the plan would lower power plant emissions by 32 per cent by 2030 as compared to rates in 2005. Trump has claimed he intends to cancel this plan and has vaguely threatened to get rid of the EPA all together. He has not recommended any alternative plans to lower carbon emissions.

The future of the environment in the United States looks dark, but there is hope. Strong environmental advocacy groups such as the Sierra Club, one of the largest environmental advocacy groups in the United States that has been fighting to protect the earth since 1892, are not going to give up.

There are many other groups that are preparing to continue the fight for climate change despite this unwelcome change of leadership in the country.

Trump may surprise his citizens by not canceling environmental agreements, though I won’t be holding my breath. It is a historical and frightening time to be living in such close proximity to a country that has a leader who cares so little about climate change. We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. We can only hope he was serious about creating clean air and clean water (the only vague environmental commitments he has made), and is willing to see that climate change goals are inextricably linked to providing those very things.

Otherwise, Canada may want to start building that wall.