Celes Devar
Guest Opinion
Saltwire/The Chronicle Herald
July 11, 2021

Originally published here

Celes Davar owns the tourism company Earth Rhythms. He lives in West Brooklyn.

As we approach a provincial election, I’m reflecting on what’s been changing in our immediate reality: climate change with severe weather impacts like more intense hurricanes in the fall; reduction in biodiversity with continued clear-cutting forestry practices; proposed habitat destruction such as the secret cabinet back-room deal to sell Owls Head provincial park to a billionaire developer to build golf courses and luxury homes while provincial policies seem to simultaneously advocate for sustainability and carbon energy reduction.

Nova Scotians want to learn about Indigenous history, treaties, culture and residential schools, Black history, and extend a welcoming hand to new immigrants who embrace our multicultural beautiful seaside province.

Canadians are moving to Nova Scotia to buy or build homes, or simply “come back home.” COVID has punched a hole in the global and provincial economy, leading many to realize that the old assumptions about GDP and global trade were based on incomplete expectations about endless growth and development practices.

What would it be like to have provincial governance that reflects accountable responses to these changes, that would be less about politics and power, and more about creating a new economy that reflects Nova Scotia’s beauty, rural community way of life, and enterprising citizenry?

How do we return to a government that actually serves the people of this province, repairs the land that has been harmed, leaves a better legacy for future generations, welcomes immigrants, and heals our settler relationships with Indigenous communities by offering them space and respectful relationships in business and commerce?

Here are some questions I want to ask our local candidates in the next election:

How will you help to invest in a new approach to economics that is more circular and regenerative?

I’d like to see a shift from a focus just on jobs growth and increase in GDP to seeing government investments that result in less poverty and homelessness, more people employed in their own enterprises in rural Nova Scotia, an increase in the amount of biodiversity protection, reconciliation actions in business and health with Indigenous people, regeneration of Acadian forests, healthier agricultural soils, and incentives for small regenerative farms.I see a goal to have everyone comfortably thriving, reducing the disparity between rich and poor. When everyone in the province is thriving, we will also be exchanging goods and trading with each other, and supporting each other economically, less dependent on imports and more resilient.

How will you help us invest in tourism that is four seasons in length, not two seasons?

Why? To help us to change the simplistic, industrialized model of tourism that invites travellers to come here in large volumes (high carbon footprint), whether by air or cruise, escorted in large numbers by motor-coaches, in hundreds of thousands to destinations like Peggys Cove (over-tourism) for only three to four months of the year.

I’d like to see a kinder, gentler, more resilient approach to tourism development in four seasons in which Atlantic Canadians have access to unique revenue-generating experiences in our community parks, small halls, museums, Indigenous communities, and multicultural community centres.

The net effect of this would be that tourism would offer different activities and opportunities that are right for each season of the year, reaching the right people to do tourism activities for the right reasons all over the province.

How will 2021 be a year in which our search is fulfilled for more of “the people’s representatives” who will truly serve the people? How will cabinet ministers enable government departments to improve conversations with Nova Scotians, not just to consult us, but to educate us with the data being collected about climate change, waste, pollution, and biodiversity loss? What will the new jobs, enterprises, and investments be as we shift from a resource-based economy to a regenerative economy? How will technology serve to educate us, not just be a distribution channel for consumer marketing?

The next generation will need these technological supports to thrive differently because we have used up our forests, polluted our waters and soils, used up reserves of gas and oil, and stayed reliant on foreign imports.

How ready are we to seek out and elect different “people’s representatives”? How will new political candidates educate themselves about circular economics and engage us in conversations about shifts to a new more sustainable economy? How will we invite others to come and settle in Nova Scotia offering these new goals about life and business in a regenerative economy and a healthy environment?

Together, we can respond to the call for new economic frameworks for a kinder, gentler way of interacting with ecology, place, and enterprise in this province.

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