Imagine answering the doorbell and finding Sean Penn, a smile on his face and a pamphlet in his hand.
A similar scene played out at some Mississauga homes Friday.
Priya Kekre opened the door of the family home in Mississauga to Rahul Bose, a Bollywood actor who has been called the Sean Penn of Indian cinema. There were squeals of delight as Kekre and Margi Shah welcomed him in. Without wasting time, he made his pitch: Use your voting power to tell Ottawa to help save the environment and secure a green future for your children.
That was it. Period. It worked.
At this home on Credit Pointe Dr., the two women signed pamphlets addressed to their Conservative MP, Bob Dechert, asking him to help Canada make the right decision in Copenhagen in December.
“Developed nations have to do the right thing,” said Bose. “Put pressure on your politicians, make environment an issue.”
Bose, a global ambassador for Oxfam, is knocking on doors, holding meetings and giving lectures in Toronto and Vancouver for two weeks. He is primarily targeting South Asian communities, especially Indo-Canadians, who are very active politically but not traditionally associated with the environmental movement.
“We wanted to bring to their (South Asians) attention the very sensitive and political issue of climate change,” said Joanna Kerr, Oxfam’s policy and outreach director. “And what better than to use a little star power to grab people’s attention and steer it this way.”
Environmental activists across the globe believe decisions made at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen will have long-ranging implications.
“If we don’t do the right thing, there will be catastrophic effects,” said Kerr. “We want Canadians to talk to their MPs, tell their leaders they care about the environment.”
Oxfam, which is working on this campaign with Climate Change Canada and Environmental Defence, has chosen ridings where the incumbent MP won by a slender margin. At the Mississauga-Erindale riding, Liberal Omar Alghabra lost to Dechert by fewer than 300 votes in the last election. It also has a large South Asian community.
Bose had a simple message on the doorstep: “You would normally ask (your politician) about taxes, health care, etc. This time, ask them about climate change. Ask them what’s their stand on it.”
Bose, who has climate change facts and figures at his fingertips, rattled them off passionately to anyone who would listen. Most people recognize him when he knocks on their doors but if they don’t, he explains who he is and why he is doing this. “My job is to make it their top priority.”
Working on climate change is one of Bose’s priorities, too. The well-respected actor in India says the implications hit him hard when he watched An Inconvenient Truth. He became an activist, started blogging about how to save water and hydro, and has even acted in a film, Mumbai Chaka Chak, whose message is care for your environment.
The movie is about a young sweeper who dreams of a clean and green Mumbai and tries to do things at his level.
“It’s the only message-driven film I’ve ever done,” said Bose. “I hope it helps get the message across.”