Gore preaches climate gospel
Enviro-disciples flock to Montreal. Former vice-president's Climate Project holds first training seminar in Canada
DAVID JOHNSTON, The Gazette, 6 April 2008
On the second day of his weekend visit to Montreal, climate-change prophet Al Gore said: Let there be enthusiasm; and there was enthusiasm.
And Gore saw the enthusiasm in the eyes of the 250 Quebec and Canadian climate-change disciples he had come to train and he said: Let there also be enlightenment; and there was enlightenment.
The enlightenment took the form of intensive training sessions that Gore held yesterday at the downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel in Complexe Desjardins for 250 Quebec and other Canadian disciples of his crusade against global warming.
They had come from all parts of Montreal and Canada - from coast to coast and top to bottom, as one conference organizer put it - for instruction from Gore on how to use an adapted slideshow of his award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, to spread the good-news gospel of how global warming can be reversed.
To see the reverence with which ordinary Montrealers, Torontonians, Calgarians and other Canadians greeted the former vice-president of the United States yesterday was to witness Gore's extraordinary new global star status.
When he entered a conference room off the Hyatt lobby at 8:15 a.m. yesterday, a hush came over the entire room, and camera lights fused into a single sustained flash of illumination around the 60-year-old Tenesseean, co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Climate change still has its detractors, but as an exercise in how to take an idea and develop a broad base of public awareness around it, An Inconvenient Truth set new high standard in the area of mass communication for politicians and documentarians alike.
But Gore is not a politician anymore. Or so he said yesterday. "I'm a recovering politician, at about Step 9," he said to great laughter at a noon-hour news conference.
Gore's An Inconvenient Truth has inspired an evangelical offspring known as The Climate Project, based in Nashville, Tenn. This weekend's Montreal conference was the first Canadian-based training seminar for the Canadian branch of the project, known as TCP Canada.
The 250 training participants are being taught this weekend to go forth and spread the bad news about climate change and the good news about what can be done to stop it. A good starting point, said Gore, is a carbon tax, like the one Quebec introduced last June, something new in Canada. Indeed, it is because of Quebec's carbon tax that TCP Canada decided to hold its training seminar in Montreal.
"Quebec is the natural place, and Montreal made the most sense," said Gore, who at a private gathering on Friday night referred to Quebec as the "environmental conscience" of Canada.
The Quebec contingent in his audience liked that little aside. But all weekend, no matter the province of origin of this or that participant, Gore has been preaching to the converted. People who believe. People of faith.
Like the biblical Saint Paul, those Quebecers who came to learn from Gore will be going out into their own communities as secular missionaries in their own right - as a new sort of Saint Jacques, Saint Catherine, Saint Marc.[hmmm.... no Saint-Denis ?]
"I think it's up to us to bring this message to ordinary people now," said Nancy Drolet, one of the Quebec participants and a former member of the Canadian national women's hockey team.
Drolet, a mother and massage therapist from Drummondville, said she learned from Gore that "the focus needs to be on the human side" while teaching, and that in context of doing teamwork with an audience watching you, you need "to play it cool." Like Gore himself. When the former vice-president mistakenly yesterday introduced a 15-year-old boy in his audience as the youngest TCP Canada trainee, he quickly noticed people over at a far table pointing to a girl who turned out to be 11.
Gore didn't waste a second. "Oh oh," he said, "this is Canada, where the records are easily broken." Last night, Gore proved his appreciation for all things Montreal by taking in the Habs game at the Bell Centre.