Why We Turned Our Backs on the Canadian Government

By: Sonia Grant, James Hutt, Matthew Chisholm, Brigette Depape, Meghan McCarthy, and Karen Rooney

“What’s your excuse?” an angry UN security guard asked us when we were being detained in the dark bowels of the Durban International Convention Centre. We remained silent. We restrained ourselves from pointing out that if anyone needs to be issuing excuses, it’s the Canadian government. Can it justify the human rights violations and environmental degradation caused by tar sands exploitation? Does it excuse the dismissal of historical responsibility to take serious action on climate injustice? Will Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister, really explain why he is here negotiating on behalf of polluting corporations rather than the people living in Canada?


Lets take the story back a little bit. On Wednesday, we rose from our seats in the plenary of COP-17 and turned our backs to Peter Kent during his opening statement. All eyes in the room shifted their gaze from Canada’s Environment Minister, who continued to regurgitate the same series of scripted lies he’s been spewing for several months, to our silent protest of Canada’s horrendous climate policy. A few minutes later, we were escorted out of the plenary by armed UN security guards, but not before a booming round of applause broke out in support of our message.

We stood up and turned our backs to a government that has disregarded the voices of our generation and of peoples on the front-lines of climate change all around the world. We stood up because we refuse to be silenced. We have tried over and over to engage in meaningful dialogue with our government to no avail. We have been left with no choice but to take collective direct action to defend our futures and demand that the Canadian government start putting people before polluters.  We won’t lose any sleep over being stripped of our accreditation to COP-17 when so much is at stake.

It’s time for more and more Canadians to join in solidarity with the millions of people across the globe who are demanding climate justice. Enough is enough. Lets start standing together, en masse, and fight for our right to a just and sustainable future.

3 Responses to “Why We Turned Our Backs on the Canadian Government”
  1. David Wilson says:

    you make me proud, I would like to see the whole visitor’s gallery in Ottawa filled up with people wearing those t-shirts, standing with their backs turned

  2. Megan says:

    Powerful moments of protest like these that are led by students like you guys make me proud to be a canadian youth. Thanks for standing up for all of us who cannot be there.

  3. Rohit Mehta says:

    Really glad to read about this, this is very inspiring!
    Reminds me of the saying, “actions speak louder than words”

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