2009: December 8th Ottawa parliament sit-in
Tim McSorley on The Media Co-Op site – “Climate justice activists occupy House of Commons meeting”
Patrice Gaudreault in Le Droit (in French) – “Six manifestants entrent au Parlement”
An interview on CBC’s “Power & Politics” TV show
(The interview segment starts just before 24min into the December 8th episode)
Part of a press release from the Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice web site –
Youth Stage Peaceful Sit-in for Climate Justice inside House of Common’s Environment Committee
Ottawa (Tuesday, December 8, 2009) — At approximately 11:30am, sixyouth staged a peaceful sit-in inside the Canadian parliament, at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Centre Block, pledging to stay until the Harper government acts to combat the climate crisis by committing to large-scale, science-based carbon emission reductions. The sit-in is part of an ongoing series of acts of peaceful civil disobedience taking place across the country since late November, during which time almost thirty people have been arrested for peacefully occupying the offices of six Conservative Cabinet Ministers.
“The Environment Committee, the House of Commons, and the Harper government have delayed action to combat climate change, refusing to listen to the views of the overwhelming majority of Canadians, 75 percent of whom are embarrassed by Canada’s inaction,” said Cameron Fenton, a student involved in the sit-in. “They need to urgently push for a just, ambitious, and binding deal in Copenhagen with science-based targets, which takes direction from the voices of those most directly impacted by the climate crisis.”
According to the latest report by the IPCC, to have a 50% chance of preventing runaway climate change, the developed nations must collectively reduce their emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020, though recent scientific studies indicate that even these targets may be too weak and that catastrophic climate change will only be prevented by moving towards zero carbon emissions.
“Despite the crisis, the Harper government is obstructing international efforts to stop climate chaos, mainly to protect the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands, the world’s most environmentally destructive project,” said Kawina Robichaud, another student inside the Environment Committee meeting. “Their continued failure to act constitutes an crime against humanity, against future generations, and against all forms of life in Canada and around the world.”
Inaction on climate change has already resulted in the death or displacement of millions, with the UN estimating there will be 150 million climate refugees by 2050. The Global Humanitarian Forum found that every year climate change causes 300,000 human deaths, severely impacts 325 million people, and causes economic losses of US$125 billion.
“Letter writing, phone calls, and rallies have not compelled the Government to take the climate crisis seriously, so we are turning to peaceful civil disobedience, ensuring youth in this country do our part to help solve the greatest crisis of our time,” said Cameron Gray, a spokesperson outside Parliament. “The Canadian government must take responsibility and curb its reckless greenhouse gasses pollution, or my generation will have to suffer the consequences of its inaction.”
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Information about the call for civil disobedience for climate justice, as well updates on actions that took place across Canada:
An update posted on the Direct Action in Canada for Climate Justice web site –
Six Youth arrested after peaceful sit-in inside Parliament for Climate Justice
Ottawa (1:30pm) – Six youth were arrested and charged with trespassing after a peaceful sit-in inside the House of Commons Environment Committee at 11:30am.
“Pleas from Canadian youth for politicians to take action to protect their future and make climate justice a priority were ignored by parliamentarians,” said Cameron Gray.
In the meeting, the Conservatives made clear that they would only support the return of bill of C-311, the Climate Change Accountability Act, to the House of Commons in order to then vote it down.