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Sound the Alarm: Urgence climatique, courage politique

Gustavo Monteiro

December 10, 2018

Around 4000 people participated in another climate march organized by the citizen-led group La Planète s’invite au Parlement on December 8th in Montreal.

This event was part of a worldwide call by many environmental groups around the world as diplomats and other representatives hold talks at COP24 (United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Poland, December 2nd to 14th.

More than 16 countries and over 140 cities held demonstrations on this day to maintain pressure on decision-makers and policy advisers as action is needed immediately. Especially when recent assessments on climate change have shown us that nothing has changed since the Paris Agreement.

In Quebec, the provincial government hasn’t concretely responded to the demonstrations that have taken place in Montreal and across the province since early September, gathering thousands of people who are concerned about how the provincial and federal representatives are dealing with the climate issue.

The party of Premier Francois Legault, the CAQ (Coalition Avenir Quebec) has no answer nor proposals for a just transition to green jobs and divesting from fossil fuels, as the groups that are part of these demonstrations have demanded. On the federal level, Mr. Sunny Ways (Trudeau) maintains his position on saving the environment by building pipelines, and he’s even comfortable while mansplaining Indigenous chiefs as they speak out against these destructive projects which are damaging their land and life (beyond the fact of disrespecting their sovereignty).

Indigenous leaders from BC joined the demonstration on December 8th, together with Mohawk chiefs, to show how the fight against the extraction of natural resources is happening all across Turtle Island and solidarity is necessary if we want future generations to thrive.

We face one battle after the other, as the Trans Mountain pipeline is on hold due to the powerful front lines of resistance organized by Indigenous people. Now settler governments with corporations from the energy sector want to invade unceded territory to build the Coastal Gas Link pipeline on Wet’suwet’en land (Northern BC) where all clans have already rejected this development. Coastal Gaslink served the people at the Unist’ot’en camp with notice of a civil lawsuit, seeking to kick them out of their land, and applied for an injunction which will be heard on Monday December 10th.

In Montreal, during his presentation about the Framework on Indigenous Rights proposed by Trudeau, Russell Diabo said: “Trudeau’s approach to the environment is hypocritical, just like his approach to Indigenous rights.”

The climate movement in Quebec remains strong and it is important to keep pressure on the government as well as keep people mobilized. Groups like La Planète s’invite au Parlement will start heading to schools next year to deepen their roots and involvement of youth. At the moment, this a crucial strategy as we gather community, labour, students, Indigenous peoples and progressive parties on board to demand a just transition.

Governments try to blame individual consumption and force taxes or restrictions on people to defeat global warming while they wash their hands with money from oil lobbyists, mining companies and other corporations that are causing the real damage, beyond sustaining a system driven by profit and reckless production and accumulation. For Indigenous communities to live and to save the environment, capitalism must die.

The demonstration on December 8 shows that the climate movement in Quebec is deepening in two ways.

The first was the presence of Indigenous leaders addressing demonstrators in Montreal. The people of Quebec and Indigenous people have long been pitted against each other, but it was recognized at this rally that the fight for the climate within the Canadian state at this moment is highest amongst both Indigenous communities and the people of Quebec.  

The second is the ongoing deepening of the climate movement at the local level throughout Quebec, including protest movements that involve youth in schools and those that target specific attacks.

One example on the horizon is Gazoduq, a Quebec-based company equally owned by Trans-Canada Pipelines Limited, which plans to build an underground natural gas pipeline that will run 750 kilometres from northeastern Ontario to Saguenay. It is part of a chain delivering liquified natural gas from Alberta to Énergie Saguenay, planned to be in service by 2024.

Indigenous groups are concerned with the pipeline map as is the Coalition Fjord, an environmental group that seeks to protect the Saguenay Fjord, which leads to the St. Lawrence River.

In the words of Manon Massé, co-spokesperson for Québec solidaire (QS) Quebec “has already seen this movie”: Gazoduq’s president, Louis Bergeron, was previously vice-president of the Energy East pipeline project that was supposed to bring one million barrels of Albertan oil through Quebec to New Brunswick on a daily basis. That project was abandoned by TransCanada in the wake of massive protest in Quebec.

Climate activists in Quebec have demonstrated before their capacity to stop a pipeline, and can do so again - while supporting their Indigenous sisters and brothers in doing the same across Turtle Island.



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