One year after the demonstration of September 27, 2019, which brought together hundreds of thousands of people in downtown Montreal, a coalition of militant groups gathered in the streets of the metropolis on the occasion of the World Day of Mobilization climate.
At around 1 p.m., several hundred people gathered at Place du Canada, at the intersection of Peel Street and René-Lévesque Boulevard, to begin the demonstration, which headed east on Sherbrooke Street. An hour later, there were thousands.
The pandemic seems to have eclipsed the fight against climate change, and activist organizations are banking on the convergence of struggles to breathe new life into the movement.
The coalition calls for the achievement of carbon neutrality by 2030, but also the regularization by the Canadian and Quebec states of all migrants, the full and complete recognition of the right of indigenous nations to self-determination and the definancing, demilitarization and the decolonization of police services.
During the demonstration, a group of individuals began chanting “everyone hates the police” in front of the police officers who escorted them, the atmosphere clashed with the march of September 2019, in which crowds of children had participated. accompanied by their teachers.
Mathieu, a protester surrounded by his three young children, is not against “this convergence of struggles”, even if it risks alienating some people, according to him.
“But for me the main stake is, and it will remain, the planet, the other stakes are secondary”.
Lylou Sehili, co-spokesperson for the Student Coalition for an Environmental and Social Shift (CEVES) does not believe that bringing together different social protests in the same movement is detrimental to climate mobilization.
“There may be people who are going to be afraid, but these causes go hand in hand. Everything is connected, everything comes from the same system of oppression, “the CEVES spokesperson told The Canadian Press.
“These police forces operate on the principles of an oppressive state, the colonization made on the lands of the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia to exploit oil, it is the same oppression which is present in the report of the SPVM which indicates that the natives are more likely to be subjected to police arrests ”, specified the young activist before adding that it is necessary to review the system as a whole.
“We cannot exclude social justice from the climate fight,” she said.
The various militant groups are calling for a low-carbon transition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and according to them, this transition cannot include the LNG Quebec liquefaction plant project in Saguenay.
“It is currently the urgent battle, because our Prime Minister may dress in green when it suits him, what we see is that he strongly encourages projects that will cancel all the efforts that we has been able to do in Quebec in recent years and which will ensure that we will never reach our targets, which are already insufficient, ”explained François Geoffroy, the co-spokesperson for La Planète invited himself to Parliament.
François Legault has often repeated that he is open to this energy project, which he believes is good for the environment and the economy. However, he refused to allow the government to get involved in its funding alone.
Demonstrate in English
The speeches leading up to the protest were given in front of where the John A. Macdonald statue stood just a few weeks ago, in place of Canada.
Hundreds of pairs of children’s shoes had been placed in front of the monument, to refer to the threat climate change poses to the future.
The opening speeches, however, were only in English, a situation that puzzled singer Émile Bilodeau, who was attending the protest.
“I am here because there is an economic recovery that must be done while respecting the climate. But it’s true that there seem to be a lot of posts and I got here a bit confused. I arrived thirty minutes ago and it disappoints me a bit from Montreal, there is a beautiful francophone youth who are ready, who made their signs in French, but I trust who should have speeches in French later. a little more focused on our realities ”indicated the independentist artist.
Asked about the speeches leading up to the event, delivered only in English, François Geoffroy, co-spokesperson for La Planète invited himself to Parliament, offered this response:
“It was like that because we wanted to give the floor to indigenous people and people of color at the start of the demonstration, but most of the speeches at the end of the demonstration will be in French, the presence of French is important to us. “
The vast majority of the demonstrators wore a face covering and the organizers maintain that the sanitary measures are respected.
“COVID-19 is a public health situation, but so is climate change,” said Lylou Sehili, adding that volunteers “really insist on respecting health measures”.