It’s time to listen to the youth climate movement

Written by Chris Connolly and Amara Possian.

The media response to the youth protest that disrupted Question Period in the Canadian House of Commons on Monday has completely missed the mark. As participants of Power Shift Canada, last weekend’s climate change summit that brought together over 1000 young Canadians to engage legitimately with our democratic institutions, we feel obligated to respond.

It would be easy to discredit the media’s representation of our fellow youth as an unfair caricature, but that would be beside the point. What’s striking is not that there was an eruption of overt civil disobedience. What’s striking is why.

A short 48 hours before this much-maligned protest, a decidedly more peaceful demonstration took place on parliament hill. On Saturday afternoon, a crowd three-thousand strong added their voices to the chorus of discontent rising from coast to coast over government inaction on the climate crisis. And yet, both our elected leaders and our national media outlets simply weren’t listening. Even as the uproar rose to a fever pitch, it fell on deaf ears. For the Canadians who tuned into their morning news, there was barely a whisper.

A silent vacuum of media and government neglect echoes throughout the country. It is a silence that speaks volumes more about the current state of environmental dialogue in Canada than the stifled cries of Monday’s protesters.

Two days ago, we would have been among those writing off the parliamentary disturbances as brash grandstanding. But the present reality of this great silence has made it abundantly clear that, without such outbursts of collective frustration, no one is listening.

Now that we finally have the national ear, what do we want? We want Canada to demonstrate a commitment to environmental justice and a sustainable, clean economy. We want an immediate reduction in carbon emissions. We want real investments in clean and renewable energy. We want the creation of effective green jobs. Most of all, we want real leadership. We want Canada to participate this December in the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen as a positive global force for a fair, ambitious and binding treaty.

Don’t ignore us any longer. It’s time to listen.

4 Responses to “It’s time to listen to the youth climate movement”


  1. 1 jcwinnie Oct 30th, 2009 at 9:47 am

    Dear Youth Climate Movement,

    This is your future. Please stop in for your I <3 Coal tattoo real soon.

    Sincerely,

    Emperor Fossil

  2. 2 lizveazey Oct 30th, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    nice pics Shadia! I’ve heard that my mother had me out at women’s rights protests when I was just a baby, too. On a similar note, I just saw an awesome video from a couple of Canadian groups who are gathering images of kids to “remind Stephen Harper who he is representing at the UN Climate Change Summit in December” find out more here: http://www.takeactiononclimatechange.com/

  1. 1 On Our Radar… - Green Inc. Blog - NYTimes.com Trackback on Oct 29th, 2009 at 4:30 pm
  2. 2 links for 2009-10-30 - Kevin Bondelli's Youth Vote Blog Trackback on Oct 30th, 2009 at 2:30 pm
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