The Act on Climate March or Marche Action Climat drew an estimated 25,000+ people to Quebec City Saturday April 11, 2015. Solidarity actions happened in cities and communities across the country. This was the largest public demonstration of concern about climate change in Canadian history. The march was led by Indigenous men, women and children from coast to coast. They are the long-time leaders of this struggle demanding the treaties be honoured and Nations be allowed to protect land, air and water for traditional use and future generations. We marched to send a clear and united message to the premiers meeting in Quebec City on Tuesday: Yes to climate protection, No to pipelines and tar sands expansion, and Yes to developing renewable energy in a just and sustainable way.
This meeting of the premiers was specifically to talk about what their provincial and our collective response to climate change will be. The federal government led by Stephen Harper has demonstrated little interest in this question. They have allowed the March deadline for countries to submit their proposals to mitigate climate change ahead of the UN Climate Summit in Paris to pass unanswered. They say they are waiting to hear what the premiers decide to do. This lack of leadership on the part of the federal government is unpardonable. It demonstrates their cowardice to face up to the mistakes they have made in their destruction of environmental safeguards and aggressive promotion of pipelines and tar sands expansion. Their justification is economic growth. But if you look at the numbers, Stephen Harper has actually had the poorest record of economic growth since the recession of the 1930’s. An economy powered by renewable energy, a reduction in extreme consumption, and an environment and climate that helps keep our population healthy and employed is the vision for the future held up by the leaders and organizers of this historic march.
The leaders who spoke at the march conveyed a clear message (even to those of us who are limited in French). The message was: Il est possible – It is possible. We do not have to go down the dark road we are on. We can change directions and chose a different vision for the future. I was also reminded at this march that the people of Quebec take a pride and protective stance towards their province that I don’t often feel in Ontario. It is their home, it is the place they live and they will protect it from those who would, for example, try and force a pipeline like Energy East through. To me, it echoed how Indigenous leaders talk about protecting and caring for their traditional territories. A sense of place and connectedness grounds these folks. I am inspired to look for and foster that sense of connectedness to the place I call home and continue organizing here in Toronto. We must stop the expansion of the tar sands as Canada’s largest greenhouse gas emitter and destroyer of traditional territories. We must honour the necessity that we transition to a renewable energy economy in a way that is equitable and just for everyone who works and lives here. These are huge political tasks but the momentum is building and il est possible.
-Madeleine Endicott, TSP Climate Justice Group Member