Torbjorn Fyrvik walks across the Burrard Bridge after protesters with the group Extinction Rebellion occupied it and closed it to vehicle traffic going into and out of downtown Vancouver, on Monday October 7, 2019.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VIDEO: Climate demonstrators shut down Canadian bridges as part of global action

Activists with a group dubbed Extinction Rebellion blocked traffic on bridges in Halifax, Toronto and Edmonton

Protesters shut down traffic on major bridges across Canada on Monday as part of an international movement meant to galvanize governments into taking more urgent action against climate change.

Activists with the environmental group Extinction Rebellion blocked traffic on spans in Halifax, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver, with similar demonstrations planned for Calgary and Victoria later in the day.

The Canadian protests did not attract the same numbers seen in some European cities where hundreds of activists turned out in force, but nonetheless sparked anger among people caught up in major traffic delays.

Extinction Rebellion’s Toronto chapter said disrupting traffic was a necessary, if inconvenient, tactic.

“In a car-dependent city, interfering with traffic is one of the best ways of interfering with business as usual,” the group wrote in a Facebook post.

“We are not attempting to shame or blame drivers — we all live in a toxic system and have few good options in our daily lives without system change.”

Dozens of protesters showed up to block the Bloor Viaduct for between four and five hours. Police said they made 20 arrests at the end, but said the protests were peaceful.

Organizer Kevin Imrie said the recent turnout for global climate change marches suggests Canadians recognize the need for urgent climate change action even if they disagree with the group’s approach.

“I think most Canadians believe this is an important thing,” he said. “I think people would disagree with disruption, and I don’t blame them. It’s an extreme response, but it’s an extreme crisis.”

In Edmonton, a handful of protesters linked arms to block traffic on the Walterdale Bridge connecting the city’s south side with the downtown core.

Police kept the peace between activists and angry drivers, some of whom got out of their cars to yell obscenities.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney criticized the protesters on Twitter, saying they were preventing workers from reaching their jobs and barring parents from taking kids to school.

“Somehow this is all supposed to be in the name of environment, but hundreds of cars are now idling unnecessarily as they wait,” he wrote.

The scene was more peaceful at Halifax’s Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, even when police moved in about four hours after the demonstration got underway.

Officers arrested 18 people positioned on the artery linking the city to nearby Dartmouth. Early in the day, police said less than a hundred protesters, many of them waving flags and signs, had gathered near the toll plaza on the Dartmouth side.

The Macdonald bridge was reopened to traffic by mid-day.

“I think this is a huge success,” protest organizer Patrick Yancey said just moments before he was arrested.

“I think it’s going to be great for the whole world to see all of the people who are willing to make this sacrifice in order to get some action on this climate crisis.”

Lorna McLagen of Annapolis Royal, N.S., was also among the group arrested. She said she felt compelled to act.

“I’ve been part of the problem for so long and now, before I die, I’d like to try to do something,” said McLagen. “As uncomfortable as it makes me feel, I have to do it.”

A protest slated to take place in Montreal was postponed until Tuesday due to rain.

Extinction Rebellion members usually sit or lie down in front of traffic until they are arrested and taken away by police officers. Such a scene played out in cities around the world throughout Monday, although some saw more dramatic efforts.

In New York City, protesters doused a famous statue of a charging bull near Wall Street with fake blood. Other activists splashed with red dye staged a “die-in” in front of the New York Stock Exchange — lying down as if dead while tourists watched.

Afterward, a few participants were seen mopping the fake blood off the ground.

“The blood of the world is here,” said Justin Becker, an organizer who made a link between the fossil fuel industry and the financial interests of Wall Street. “A lot of blood has been spilled by the decisions of the powerful and the status quo and the toxic system that we live in.”

Demonstrators playing steel drums marched through central London as they kicked off two weeks of activities designed to disrupt the city.

In Paris, hundreds either locked arms or chained themselves together in the city’s central square, while in Berlin about 1,000 people gathered before dawn to block the Grosser Stern traffic circle in the middle of the German capital’s Tiergarten park.

Founded in Britain last year, Extinction Rebellion, also known as XR, now has chapters in some 50 countries. The group said the protests Monday were taking place in 60 cities worldwide.

READ MORE: Climate activists plan to close Vancouver bridge as part of Canada-wide protest

— With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Members of Extinction Rebellion, protesting issues related to climate change, gather at the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in Dartmouth, N.S. on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Just Posted

Lantzville opts against forming social media committee

Committee would have helped district council develop policy on social media behaviour

Nanaimo Hospital Auxiliary has been fundraising for 120 years

Hospital auxiliary president says group pioneered Wi-Fi at hospitals on Island

Gabriola Island community bus sees 100,000th rider

Gabriola Environmentally Responsible Trans-Island Express celebrated milestone Jan. 25

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Mayor and council aren’t necessary

Instead of candidates, put municipal priorities on the ballot, says letter writer

RDN budget talks to include public consultation results

Director not impress with level of engagement

Protesters in Nanaimo preach peace in Iran

Rally sees gathering at Diana Krall Plaza in downtown Nanaimo

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

The Three Bears are down to two after baby bear carving stolen from his perch in Island community

Thief repeatedly kicked it and dislodged it from cement and rebar

Licensed cannabis store opens in Nanaimo’s north end

Mood Cannabis Company’s Metral Drive location opened Jan. 18

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Most Read