The Fight For Jobs, Justice And The Climate

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Above photo: People march/kayak in Toronto. On Twitter by @MikeHudema.

Update: New video from Idle No More Media

Canada’s climate change organizers are heralding a new movement, with jobs, justice, and tar sand opposition taking center stage. This weekend, climate rallies are taking place in cities from coast to coast for the largest day of national climate action yet. The message of the movement is clear: Canada and its people are greater than tar sand exploitation, and activists are calling for an alternative energy economy that moves the country away from fossil fuel dependency.


Organizers say the weekend’s events represent the most diverse climate mobilization in Canada’s history, with the participation of trade unions, including a large private sector union representing fossil fuel workers, indigenous communities, who have continually been on the front lines of environmental struggles, as well as migrant justice advocates, anti-extractive industry activists, faith communities, and more. “What you’re seeing are the first steps toward a new kind of climate movement,” said Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, at an event downtown Toronto last month announcing the upcoming mobilization. “It’s a climate movement that recognizes that time is too short to allow our divisions to keep us from building the kind of coalitions that will safeguard life on earth.”

Canadian Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was dubbed the world’s “worst climate villain” by the Climate Change Performance Index, has long maintained that Canada must choose between a healthy economy, with fossil fuels and resource extraction at the heart, and climate action. But protesters in Canada’s budding “Jobs, Justice, Climate” movement have a different idea. Heralding climate leadership from below in the face of climate-apathetic politicians, the movement calls for shaping a new Canadian economy that benefits people and the earth, not corporate polluters.

Organizers say that the image of this new economy will be represented in mobilizations with various contingents marching for justice for indigenous and frontline affected communities, clean jobs, climate solutions, and against the known culprits of climate crisis, according to the event website. While condemning Canada’s tar sand exploitation for contributing to the climate crisis is at the center of the climate mobilizations, affected communities are also calling attention to the negative impacts of hydraulic fracking and mining on local water supplies and the environment.

On Saturday, people in cities across the nation marched by foot, on bicycles, and in canoes to demand climate justice. The biggest march is set to take place in Toronto on Sunday. On Friday, youth divestment organizers across the country, fed up with Canada’s climate inaction, staged sit-ins in politicians’ offices to demand political leadership on moving toward a clean energy economy and an end to tar sands expansion

The mobilizations come after G-7 leaders, including Canada’s Harper, proposed at the U.N. climate talks earlier this month to cut fossil fuels by the end of the century. Instead of heeding calls for urgent and immediate climate action, leaders from the world’s wealthiest countries granted their nations a comfy 85-year period to act. U.N. climate talks in Paris later this year will finalize an international climate agreement.

The new movement also comes ahead of the Canada’s federal election this fall. With opinion polls showing the social democratic New Democratic Party taking a slight lead over incumbent Harper’s Conservatives and the Liberal party, the upcoming election could mark a change in Canadian politics, but the growing climate movement points the finger at all major federal political parties for not putting climate justice first.

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