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

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.

 

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

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

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Denmark soccer player Christian Eriksen collapses during game against Finland

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read