An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island climate change protest saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. A ‘grim reaper’ figure appears at all of their protests. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island climate change protest saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. A ‘grim reaper’ figure appears at all of their protests. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Extinction Rebellion vows to keep pressuring government following Liberal re-election

‘If somebody’s got a better idea, then speak up,’ says Extinction Rebellion spokesperson

Days after being re-elected, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced he intends to push forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project that has sparked massive debates throughout the country.

Vancouver Island’s branch of Extinction Rebellion (XR) is vowing to continue to pressure governing forces to take action in the face of the climate crisis.

Despite the massive amount of attention brought to issue thanks to Greta Thunberg and the Friday for Future school strikes, Mark Nykanen, XR spokesperson, says the sense of emergency never really came across during the campaigns.

“The election results change absolutely nothing from our point of view, there is still a climate emergency,” Nykanen says. “Our newly elected officials are like 911 operators taking an endless break while an emergency unfolds.”

READ ALSO: PHOTOS: Hundreds gather in downtown Victoria for Extinction Rebellion climate protest

The Liberal government expects to receive $500 million a year from the project, which they’ve promised to spend on cleaner sources of energy and projects that pull carbon out of the atmosphere. For XR, that’s not enough.

“Trudeau is a carbon bomber with a smiley face,” Nykanen says. “We have no reason to trust him on the climate emergency and we have ample reason to distrust him.”

Back in June, a day after declaring a climate emergency, the federal government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline. The decision was faced with harsh criticism, especially from B.C.’s government.

“This is an absolute scar on our future and [Trudeau] is the one making the incision,” Nykanen says.

READ ALSO: Extinction Rebellion setting up ‘gallows’ protest in Victoria

While XR did not endorse any party, they want to see stronger plans put in place to mitigate the earth’s rising temperatures.

Nykanen says he feels for those who rely on fossil fuel industries but says it’s imperative people stop mining the tar sands “as a matter of survival.”

Recently London police tried to ban XR protests, which has been called an abuse of power and has been taken to court in the U.K. Nykanen says he’s more concerned about the consequences of not facing the crisis than of police reaction.

Protesters have drawn criticism in regards to some of their civil disobedience tactics such as blocking off traffic in the downtown core and shutting down the Johnson Street bridge during rush hour.

“None of us love having to stand in front of people, take abuse and slow down traffic … this is not fun, but if somebody’s got a better idea then speak up.”



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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