New Internationalist

Blame Canada!

Here’s a report on yesterday’s Tar Sands action - and some photos, by Orin Langelle and Daygot Leeyos.

About 200 of us gathered outside the Canadian Embassy in Copenhagen to protest at the way Canada is blocking progress on binding, ambitious climate emissions reductions - because it’s committed to expanding the most destructive project on earth: the Tar Sands.

We had a noisy, colourful and at times emotional rally.

Tar Sands Rally

We arrived to discover that, true to form, those delightful Danish police had retracted our protest license, so we had to gather across the street from the Embassy. Clayton Thomas-Muller from the Indigenous Environmental Network was our larger-than-life MC, and opened the proceedings with a traditional song and prayer. Then a series of Indigenous speakers spoke passionately about how Tar Sands extraction is destroying Mother Earth and hurting people in their communities: and for what? To fuel an oil addiction that is driving us into climate catastrophe. It’s just nuts.

Indigenous activists at tar sands demo

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger talked about how people in her community of Fort Chipewyan, directly downstream from the Tar Sands, are being poisoned by the food they eat and the water they drink. Many people are developing cancer as a result of the massive pollution imposed on their traditional lands.

Eriel Tchekwie Deranger speaking

Kandi Mossett - herself a cancer survivor - delivered a passionate condemnation of Canada’s decison to keep extracing this hugely carbon-intensive source of oil rather than making the transition to a green economy.

Kandi Mossett speraking

Naomi Klein, who like many Canadians is appalled by the way her government is behaving like a bullying petro-state, then spoke.

Naomi Klein speaking

Then it was my turn: talk about a tough act to follow!

Jess Worth speaking

I talked about how the Tar Sands are not just a Canadian affair. They are also part of the UK’s carbon footprint due to the heavy involvement of British companies and investors such as Shell, BP and Royal Bank of Scotland. I was able to deliver the news that at that very moment a simultaneous protest was taking place outside Canada House in Trafalgar Square, London, in solidarity with ours. Then, after a few more speakers, I led the crowd in a rousing rendition of ‘Blame Canada’ - the song from ‘South Park: the Movie’ whose words we’ve bastardised to lay our collective blame squarely on the Tar Sands.

Finally, a group of us went as close to the Embassy door as the cops would let us (which was not very) to lay out a welcome mat for Canadian Prime Minister, and drop off a welcome basket for him, containing goodies such as copies of all the Treaties with Canada’s First Nations that the Tar Sands are contravening, a copy of the Kyoto Protocol (he’s obviously forgotten to check his emissions reductions targets lately), a copy of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada is one of only three countries to refuse to sign, and some ‘Shut down the Tar Sands’ stickers.

Meanwhile, others blocked the street to lay out a huge banner.

Protesters block street with massive tar sands banner

Canada’s international reputation has taken a dramatic nose-dive in recent weeks, as awareness of the mind-bogglingly destructive scale of the world’s largest industrial project has fuelled condemnation from activists, NGOs and politicians alike. There are even moves to have Canada thrown out of the Commonwealth for its appalling behaviour. In London today, activists scaled the Canadian High Commission, removed the flag, dunked it in a barrel of oil and replaced it with their own. Even here in the swanky Bella Centre, rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s worst climate criminals, Canada is not safe: it keeps picking up not-so-prestigious ‘Fossil of the Day’ Awards for its efforts to scupper a just and binding agreement. 

Sorry Canadians, I know this is embarrassing for you, but we’re going to keep blaming Canada until it stops this madness.

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  1. #1 magdalene 17 Feb 11

    Harper, The Tar Sands, and more...

    I know this seems to be 2 years out of date, but I feel I must mention something on the subject as the 'token' Canadian who seems to have stumbled upon your site through the Yes Men site. I feel the need to point out that most Canadians are in agreement with you. Canadian politics are in a word, vastly outdated system of ridings and seats based rather than on 'one citizen one vote'.

    Also, we have 4 federal political parties, The biggest 2 used to be the Liberals (who in recent years haven't really been liberal, but I will get to that later...) and the Conservatives, followed by the New Democratic Party (who have generally been to the left of centre) and in Quebec, they have a party all their own called the Parti Quebecois, who generally takes all of the votes in Quebec, but no where else. Yes there are smaller parties like the Green party of recent years, who are left of the NDP who have gotten a lot of votes on the west coast, but don't generally get any seats in Parliament because of how the riding system works, and they split the vote on the left, pretty much guaranteeing that the NDP or the Green party will never be Prime Minister of Canada.

    Also there are far more people in Ontario and Quebec than in the rest of the provinces, so generally, they have way more ridings than we do, and the vote is decided before the west coast even gets their votes in.

    Elections in Canada are decided in a 'first past the post' way. whomever has their representatives in each province and territory win their respective ridings gets a seat in parliament, and the party that has the most seats, wins the election and the leader of that party becomes Prime Minister.

    When Steven Harper won the last election, he won with only 37.6 % of the vote. The majority of people who showed up to vote did NOT vote for Mr. Harper. See for more details on the 2008 election.

    We are doing our best to rouse people from their complacency and get them to go vote in the next election to get this man (whom most of the educated people I know view as a kitten strangling reptile, and a bully who would rather sell Canada off to the US to remain in power than do anything that is considered 'good' for this country. He has prorogued the government twice because he was in a 'tough spot' with questions about the abuse of Afghan detanees and he appointed a bunch of his cronies to the senate so they would be in majority to kill a climate change bill without even going through the motions of debating about it.

    To close I just want to say there are many Canadians who feel the same way about the tar sands as you do, and we are trying our best to get Steven 'weasel boy' Harper out of power.

    In allegiance,

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