Extinction Rebellion Canada says it stands behind the controversial comments made by David Suzuki in B.C.'s capital city over the weekend.
The Canadian environmental icon drew criticism for comments he made at an Extinction Rebellion rally held in Victoria on Saturday (Nov. 20) that drew upwards of 200 demonstrators to stage a "funeral procession for life on Earth."
At the protest, Suzuki told a reporter: “There are gonna be pipelines blown up if leaders don’t address climate change.”
Extinction Rebellion says it "agrees with Dr. Suzuki," stressing that his statement is a prediction of what could happen as people become desperate.
"The statement by David Suzuki is a prediction of what is to come as the desperation of ordinary people increases while governments fail to address the climate and ecological emergency, and disasters and climate chaos destroy people’s lives," explains a news release.
The organization asserts that Suzuki's words are not controversial. Instead, it says the press is maliciously framing his comments as "condoning violence."
“Not only will pipelines be blown up, but we can be certain that world leaders will be put on trial for treason or worse - be killed," says Zain Haq, Extinction Rebellion Canada’s National Action & Strategy Coordinator. "Although Extinction Rebellion activists are nonviolent, we cannot control the actions of those outside of this movement who may commit acts of violence."
Haq adds: “The same goes for the media. When the Canadian public realizes that the press has been misleading them about how the climate emergency is being addressed, you can be sure that some people will become violent. We know this from history. People will not forgive extreme acts of criminality by their governments and the institutions they are supposed to trust."
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has also stated that Suzuki should apologize for his comments about the pipeline. But Haq underscores that the premier is responsible for the climate emergency and will have to answer to the public.
"The only 'gangster' here is Mr. Kenney, not Dr. Suzuki.”
Extinction Rebellion protests in Vancouver
Extinction Rebellion's Vancouver chapter planned to disrupt a Vancouver Canucks game on Sunday but protestors did not go inside. Instead, Extinction Rebellion member and President of Unifor Local 950 Brent Eichler tells Vancouver Is Awesome that they occupied an intersection in front of the arena instead.
"There was one arrest," he says, adding: "We will continue with more disruption every week until we win."
Eichler notes that the group knows its demonstrations make locals angry. "We understand that and we accept that there is no other way...because we tried every other way."
Suzuki attended Extinction Rebellion's first of "14 days of disruption" on Oct. 16 where he spoke to demonstrators and passersby. He told V.I.A. in a previous telephone interview that he isn't surprised that Vancouver's youth are taking to the streets to protest government inaction.
"I think it's an indication of how frustrated people are and civil disobedience seems to be the next step," he says. "My fear is that if this doesn't get the attention and discussion of our so-called leaders, you know, some [...] people are going to start even more disruptive tactics and that's what I'm worried about."
Read the full interview with Suzuki regarding the protests.