In what organizers claimed was “the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history,” about 100 young people were briefly detained and issued citations on Parliament Hill Monday.
They had attempted to breach a security perimeter after marching from the downtown University of Ottawa to protest the federal government’s rumoured imminent final approval of Kinder Morgan’s $5.4-billion expansion of its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver.
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“Climate leaders don’t build pipelines,” said Sophie Birks, a McGill University student arrested at the action, in a statement released by the activist group Common Dreams. “My generation wants to see real action on climate change and Indigenous rights. That starts with rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”
In an opinion piece published in the National Post ahead of the protest, 20 year-old Amanda Harvey-Sanchez, a third-year environmental studies and anthropology student at the University of Toronto, noted that a sharp increase in youth voting in last year’s election led analysts to conclude “that my generation is largely responsible for the Liberal majority.”
“With this new government came high expectations,” Harvey-Sanchez noted. “Trudeau campaigned on a promise to respect Indigenous rights, take action on climate change, and address the needs of young people. Two weeks ago, we saw a small step in the right direction with the announcement of a national carbon pricing policy, but there is reason for concern.
“Trudeau’s carbon price is far too low to have a real impact alone, and it will be rendered all but useless if his government facilitates tar sands expansion via pipelines like Kinder Morgan. The political calculus is that Trudeau can ‘afford’ to lose seats in British Columbia, and carbon pricing is [a] quid pro quo to push through a tar sands pipeline.”
But “in all the trade-offs and political maneuvers”, Harvey-Sanchez warns, “Trudeau seems to have forgotten the one constituency he cannot afford to lose: youth. The constituency that gave the Trudeau Liberals a majority is also the same group of people who overwhelmingly oppose pipelines and support strong climate action and respect for Indigenous rights.
“Young people showed up for Trudeau last election, and we’re not about to let him forget it,” she added.
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