Getting loud about climate change

Thursday, October 29, 2009

  • What happened in the House of Commons was not a protest, but an uprising of concerned and educated individuals who will not sta

    What happened in the House of Commons was not a protest, but an uprising of concerned and educated individuals who will not sta

Written by Yvonne Su

On October 24th, the International Day of Climate Action, people in 181 countries came together for the most widespread day of environmental action in the planet’s history. Over 5000 events took place around the world to call for strong action and leadership on the climate crisis.

On that day, 70 University of Guelph students traveled down to Parliament Hill to participate in Fill the Hill critical mass rally, coordinated by local students Gracen Johnson and Aiden Abram. They joined over 3000 people on the front lawn of Parliament, making noise and advocating for stronger leadership and binding policies to address climate change.

However, the headlines of the news have not been about the success of Fill the Hill and events around the world, but rather on the disturbance of Question Period last Monday by a group of concerned Canadians. Around 200 young citizens chanted slogans from the public gallery in support of Bill C-311, the NDP-supported Climate Change Accountability Act, effectively disrupting proceedings in the House of Commons. When parliamentary security guards eventually cleared out the citizens, six people were arrested and one of them was bloodied in the process.

This desperate call to action got the attention of national media, in particularly the CBC, who have continually tried to sensationalize the story over the last few days. Interviews were conducted with several opeople  involved in the demonstration, including one who was injured. Instead of focusing on  the cause of the outcry, the network questioned the validity the demonstration. Over 800 posts have been made about the article but many have missed the point; Canada does not have a plan for Climate Change.

If Bill C-311 had passed, it would have forced Canada to commit to targets set by the KyotoPlus petition, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2o per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. These targets are based on recommendations by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Instead, Bill C-311 was given a 30-day extension in committee. Now, the House of Commons will not need to vote on it until after the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen.

Out of frustration, having exhausted all known means of addressing their concerns to politicians, these young people felt the need to scream out their frustrations to our leadership. Yet, politicians and national media called them “protesters," "treehuggers," "hippies" and "thugs” in order to marginalize and discredit their concerns for the future of our planet.

Having attended Fill the Hill, I know that the demonstrators at Question Period are educated, active and informed citizens. These brave young men and women have done more to ensure democracy in our country than the hundreds of cowards making negative posts from behind a computer screen.

We should be commending these inviduals for having the courage to stand up and speak out about injustice. What happened in the House of Commons was not a protest, but an uprising of concerned and educated individuals who will not stand for a government that does not have a plan for dealing with an ongoing climate crisis.

We will not stand ideally by while the Canadian government embarrasses the country in Copenhagen. We will rise up and make our voices heard.

Guelph Countdown to Copenhagen hosts a screening of the climate change documentary, The Age of Stupid this Thursday, November 12 at 7pm in the Bullring.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question

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