Canadian promotes American exceptionalism
It's been a difficult month at the Oregon State Capitol, with contentious votes, angry floor speeches, tense press conferences and a four-day walkout that temporarily paralyzed the Senate.
On Monday evening, though, lawmakers and audience members got a pep talk from an unlikely source: an invited witness testifying on Democrats' polarizing cap-and-trade bill.
That witness was former Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray, who talked about Canadian efforts to address climate change and compared his home country to Oregon and the United States.
Americans, Murray said, "never think about how big the problem is, but just think about how amazing the solutions are and do that."
He added, "I actually think American entrepreneurship and exceptionalism, and I'm saying this as a Canadian, is more needed right now in the world — this can-do attitude, that nothing is impossible, that we can overtake any challenge — that's the kind of spirit we need for climate change. We don't need doubters and squelchers. We really need that unbridled American optimism like we've never seen before."
Murray was addressing the Joint Carbon Reduction Committee, which was put together to work on House Bill 2020, the cap-and-trade bill.
"You are the country that in 10 years put men on the Moon," Murray said. "That was a lot harder than anything we're trying to do right now."
The cap-and-trade legislation is one of Democrats' top priorities this session, along with an education bill that passed the Senate earlier Monday afternoon.
Neither bill exists in a vacuum, as Rep. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, noted.
"We just passed a $2.8 billion Student Success package that will effectively put a sales tax across the state and our industries," Smith said. "Overlaying a carbon tax on top of that could be devastating to our economy in this transitioning period."
The United Nations and other experts have warned that greenhouse gas emissions must be slashed dramatically by 2030 to prevent climate change from becoming catastrophic. Responding to Smith, Murray said policymakers in Oregon and elsewhere have "run out of time" to delay action.
"We're the only generation left that has a chance to turn this around," Murray said.