More than two dozen young people are facing a month-long ban from Parliament Hill after staging a climate-change protest in the House of Commons on Oct. 28, 2019. (The Canadian Press)

VIDEO: Pressure mounts for Liberals to act on climate change as activists gear up

A group of young people were banned from the House of Commons after staging a sit-in

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he heard loud and clear the message Canadians sent in the federal election for him to be bolder about climate change action.

Now young Canadians want him to prove it.

Twenty-seven youth with the group Our Time were arrested in the House of Commons on Monday morning after attempting to stage a sit-in to demand a Canadian “green new deal” be the first priority of all 338 MPs elected last week.

They had 338 letters to deliver to the new MPs that listed demands including a cut to emissions in line with international scientific consensus, respecting Indigenous rights, creating good new jobs and protecting the most vulnerable people.

Amara Possian, a campaign manager with Our Time, said in a recent blog post that the first 100 days of a new government are a critical time as the government lays out its plans and priorities. With the Liberals held to a minority, they will need support from other parties to pass legislation and stay in power, which many environment groups see as leverage to push the Liberals to do more on climate change.

Niklas Agarwal, a 24-year-old recent geography graduate from Toronto, said minority governments have given Canada progressive programs like universal health care, and feels a minority government can deliver a green new deal in Canada.

“This is a generational crisis and I’ve never felt the urgency of anything else in my life,” said Agarwal, clutching the trespassing ticket that bars him from returning to Parliament Hill for the next 30 days.

The protesters gained access to the House of Commons by joining a regular visitors’ tour, then sitting down on the floor once and refused to move. Within minutes, Parliamentary security officers forced them to leave. Some protesters were dragged out by their arms, while others were lifted up to their feet and forced to walk out.

The idea of a green new deal comes mainly from Democrats in the United States who introduced resolutions in Congress last winter. The NDP co-opted the term in its campaign rhetoric, and the Green Party described their climate change plan, named “Mission: Possible,” as Canada’s green new deal.

READ MORE: Adults must protect kids from climate change, Greta Thunberg tells Vancouver rally

Dan Woynillowicz, policy director at Clean Energy Canada, said the term “green new deal” may not take hold in Canada because it is too aligned with the United States. But he said if you look at where the Liberals, NDP and Green platforms align on climate change, there are “the makings of an agenda” that cuts emissions deeper and faster, and supports affected Canadian workers through the transition.

In particular, the parties aim to cut emissions in line with what the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is needed to keep the world from warming much more than 1.5 C compared to pre-industrial times. Investments in public transit, planting trees, encouraging electric vehicle use and investing in clean energy technologies are all among their common platforms.

Woynillowicz said he expects the Liberals to move quickly on their promised bill to legislate a fair transition for energy workers because that could help generate some good will in western Canada for climate action. Beyond that, the promised legislation to set five-year emissions targets and report publicly on progress would also be expected early, said Woynillowicz.

A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the Liberals recognize more needs to be done on climate change.

READ MORE: 15 Canadian youths to sue Ottawa for not acting on climate change

Mia Rabson, 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

Just Posted

Four exhibits on display at Penticton Art Gallery

Indigenous art and art inspired by the pandemic are on display until Nov. 7

Penticton piano silenced by vandals

The piano has been thrown away but the bench salvaged and at Long Gallery

Two new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region is at 533

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm have died of illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Two people injured after logging truck rolls over on North Okanagan road

Single-lane alternating traffic is in effect on Lumby-Mabel Lake Road near Birch Road

Lessons from a pandemic: How to design a nursing home that’s safe and love-filled

A look at how one care home is battling the pandemic with the social needs of the elderly in their care

Winter tires, chains now mandatory along most B.C. highways

Drivers without the proper winter tires – which must also be in good condition – can be fined $109

Documentary to celebrate the Shuswap’s music scene

Local initiative to feature several of the region’s artists

Guns seized in relation to southeast Kelowna murder investigation

RCMP seized several firearms from a West Kelowna home on Tuesday

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

First Nations Health Authority chief medical officer concerned with rising COVID-19 cases

“There’s still so much we don’t know and we’re learning everyday about this particular virus.”

FINLAYSON: COVID-related job losses concentrated in urban areas… especially Metro Vancouver

The biggest job losses, in absolute terms, have been in Metro Vancouver

Most Read