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NEWS: 250,000+ march in ‘Quebec Spring’ protest in Montreal

The Montreal Gazette reports, “A crowd of 250,000 people or more (perhaps up to 300,000 people) inched its way through downtown and onto Mount Royal Sunday afternoon in what was Quebec’s largest-ever Earth Day march.” CJAD Montreal notes, “The marchers gathered early this afternoon at the Place des Festivals, near Place des Arts, and then made their way up Bleury St./Park Ave. to Mount Royal park. At one point, the street was jammed with people the entire length of the planned route.” CBC adds, “The march was so massive that, more than two hours after it began, a large crowd was still waiting to begin at the starting point.”

The Gazette article highlights, “Sunday’s event was a peaceful, family-oriented rally that drew activists from around the province, who had come with a variety of complaints about the federal and provincial governments’ handling of environmental issues. They waved Quebec flags, carried banners that read ‘La terre n’est pas à vendre’ and ‘Harper = dictateur’ and blasted Quebec Premier Jean Charest for his Plan Nord project for oil and gas exploration in the north.”

“‘The student protests seem to have sparked a larger feeling of malaise, of protest, among Quebecers’, said Claudine Allaire, a senior citizen from the Laurentians…” The Toronto Sun adds, “Sunday’s march, along with the massive demonstration in mid-March against tuition hikes and the almost-daily student protests across province, make it increasingly difficult to deny the contention among student leaders that the province is undergoing a ‘Quebec Spring’. The ‘Quebec Spring’ idea references the popular revolts over the past two years in countries in the Middle East and North Africa.” While the Canadian Press notes, “Many people at the march said they believed Quebec needs another quiet revolution, much like the movement in the sixties that brought sweeping changes to the province. They are calling for a ‘Printemps Erable’, a Quebec spring.”

CBC also notes, “Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair joined the march, remarking on the environmental ‘debt’ the modern world has accumulated in the last generation. ‘We are creating the most important ecological, economic and social debt in history that future generations will have to bear’, Mulcair said as he signed a petition…” That petition says, “We gather to denounce this country’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol, the degradation of our environment due to oil sands development, the current non-sustainable operating models for mining and forestry, the high-risk exploitation of shale gas, oil, and uranium and the use of nuclear energy in our territory…”

The groups that organized the day include Alter Citoyens, Alternatives, Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA), Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), Commun, Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal, Équiterre, FarWeb.tv, Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), Fondation David Suzuki, Greenpeace, Jour de la Terre Québec, Maison du développement durable, Nature Québec and Piknic Electronik.