Civil disobedience called for in Ottawa to stop tar sands destruction

Media Release
August 25, 2011

(Toronto) — Canadian and U.S. environmental and civil society leaders today endorsed a call from the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Council of Canadians and Greenpeace Canada for people in Canada to join a mass protest featuring a civil disobedience sit-in against the tar sands in Ottawa on September 26th.

The call comes after several days of protests at the White House, where activists are calling on the Obama government to not approve the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry dirty tar sands oil from Alberta to the United States. The Ottawa protest will ask the Harper government to transition away from toxic tar sands to green, sustainable energy.

“Since August 20th, hundreds of Americans have peacefully protested, many risking arrest, in a series of events to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and stop more dirty tar sands oil from entering the U.S.,” said Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner with Greenpeace Canada. “On September 26th, Canadians need to match their courage and risk arrest in Ottawa to stop the tar sands. The time has come to act together for the health of our planet, our air, our water, our climate, and our children and say no to a destructive tar sands industry.”

The U.S protests at the White House against the Keystone XL pipeline will run to September 3rd. The U.S. mobilization began when environmentalist David Suzuki, actor Danny Glover and many others issued a similar call out for civil disobedience action at the White House.

 “We cannot continue to let the reckless oil industry trample treaty rights, poison rivers, destroy the land and help fuel a growing climate crisis,” said Clayton Thomas Mueller with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “That is why on September 26th we are asking people to come to Ottawa and use their bodies in a simple act of civil disobedience to say no to the tar sands. The Harper government needs to know that we don’t support his reckless agenda, that we want to turn away from a toxic tar sands industry and that we are going to forge the future we all want to live in.”

"Tar sands oil is dirty oil,” said Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Rather than coming up with a conversion plan to a sustainable energy future, the federal and Alberta governments are planning massive increases in tar sands production and the export of this dangerous product to the already oil-ravaged Gulf Coast of Texas. Tar sands mining has destroyed much of Alberta's water table and will put the fragile Ogallala Aquifer in peril. We join with the millions of Americans who oppose the expansion of this deadly industry."

The call out has been endorsed by veteran U.S. and Canadian scientists, Order of Canada members, authors and environmentalists and non-governmental organizations. Among them are Maude Barlow, Shirley Douglas, George Poitras, James Hansen, Graeme Gibson, John O’Connor, Clayton Ruby, Judy Rebick, Naomi Klein, Tom Goldtooth, Bill McKibben, Gordon Laxer, Tony Clarke, Bruce Cox, Joe Uehlein, the Indigenous Environmental Network, Council of Canadians and Greenpeace Canada.

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