Taking on climate change on one wheel
Joseph Boutilier stops in Portage la Prairie during his Unity for Climate Change journey from Victoria, B.C., to Ottawa, Ont. Boutilier is unicycling across the country to raise awareness of climate change. (Johnna Ruocco/THE GRAPHIC/QMI AGENCY)
Joseph Boutilier is on a 5,000 kilometre unicycling trip to put pressure on the federal government to take action on climate change.
The Victoria, B.C. native stopped in Portage la Prairie last week during his journey from his hometown to Ottawa, Ont.
“Climate change is a crisis at this point. It’s something I think is already affecting our communities and economy let alone the environment and it’s something that’s going to get worse really soon,” Boutilier said. “Unfortunately, Canada is falling short of meeting its own emissions targets, which are already a lot lower then what they were when we signed the Kyoto Protocol and then backed out of that.”
Boutilier said he was frustrated and began thinking about what he could do to make a difference.
“How can I raise awareness to this issue and really demonstrate to the government that there is momentum behind significant climate action?” he said.
So, why a unicycle?
“The unicycle was just something that’s a little more challenging and noteworthy and it’s a great ice breaker,” Boutilier said.
He said he has found a great amount of support in the communities he has stopped in so far on his journey.
“Moreso than I expected to be honest, even in regions that are kind of known as oil country,” he said. “I think people understand that even economically, we need to start to transition to other forms of energy and just diversify our economy so that we have something of a backup plan and something that’s a little more sustainable.”
Boutilier quit his job in January to be able to organize his journey and learn to ride the unicycle.
“The ride itself is the easy part. I hope to get to Ottawa in mid-September, Sept. 15 is the opening of the fall session of Parliament, so as soon as (the MPs) get back to work after the summer I want to make this a priority for them and that’s when I guess things will get interesting. I definitely hope to encourage something of a convergence on Parliament,” Boutilier said, adding he hopes to meet with Minister of Environment Leona Aglukkaq as well as opposition party leaders or environment critics.
Boutilier’s journey can be tracked on his website www.unityfortheclimate.ca. He says the website and online presence is instrumental in his campaign.
“The online campaign is every bit as important as the physical campaign. Not everyone can join me in Ottawa, but everyone can join me online and show their support for the cause.”