Canada: Mass arrests as students confront Trudeau over pipelines

October 31, 2016
Ottawa, October 24.

Close to 100 students and youth were arrested on Parliament Hill on October 24 for their participation in what organisers described as “the largest act of youth-led climate civil disobedience in Canadian history.”

Protesters targeted the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will rule to accept or reject this year.

“I came to Ottawa today to risk arrest, and ultimately to be arrested,” Gabriel D’Astous, a recent UBC graduate, explained to Ricochet. “I want to send a message to the prime minister that he must have a climate policy which respects not only climate science, but Indigenous rights, and that means rejecting the Kinder Morgan pipeline.”

“Climate leaders don’t build pipelines,” explained Sophie Birks, a McGill University student who was also arrested at the action. “My generation wants to see real action on climate change and Indigenous rights.”

Organisers said about 200 people left the University of Ottawa on October 24 and marched to Parliament Hill. When they tried to cross barricades in front of the main stairs to enter parliament, they were arrested.

Police confirmed to organisers that a total of 99 people were arrested. Video released by the group shows students standing in line to be arrested while chanting “we believe that we will win.”

“We wanted to deliver a very clear message to the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who is also the minister of youth, and say that we want him to reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline,” added D’Astous. “The police weren’t allowing us to deliver that message to parliament, so when we crossed fences to deliver that message they put us under arrest.”

According to D’Astous, those arrested were held for over an hour before being given a trespassing notice banning them from parliament grounds for three months and then released without charges.

Organisers of the action cited data showing that millennials are expected to be one of the largest voting blocks in Canada by the next federal election. They voted overwhelmingly for Trudeau’s Liberals last year and they oppose pipelines at a higher rate than any other generation.

“These youth who were arrested today will be going home and organising in their communities,” Cam Fenton of 350 Canada, which coordinated today’s action, told Ricochet. “If Trudeau thinks he can approve pipelines and still appeal to millennials in 2019 he has a big problem on his hands.”

[Abridged from Ricochet.]

You need Green Left, and we need you!

Green Left is funded by contributions from readers and supporters. Help us reach our funding target.

Make a One-off Donation or choose from one of our Monthly Donation options.

Become a supporter to get the digital edition for $5 per month or the print edition for $10 per month. One-time payment options are available.

You can also call 1800 634 206 to make a donation or to become a supporter. Thank you.