Toronto Protest Unites Environmental, Labor, and Indigenous Movements

Sanjay Talreja reports on the July 5th March for Jobs, Justice & the Climate in Toronto, Canada

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SANJAY TALREJA, TRNN: An estimated crowd of 10,000 people gathered in Toronto, Canada on July 5 to protest against the Canadian government’s stubborn refusal to take action against climate change. Apart from indigenous leaders and activists, the union and labor movement, migrant right groups, student activists, and various community and environmental organizations were also part of this extremely diverse coalition.

FRED KAHN, CANADIAN UNION OF POSTAL EMPLOYEES: In Ontario and across Canada, the labor movement stands with social justice movements. Climate movements. Aboriginal people. For justice for our future.

SYED HUSSAN, NO ONE IS ILLEGAL, TORONTO: We want to be free from the idea that these people and institutions are forced upon us that say racialized people, women, queer people, disabled people should be exploited and excluded. We, you and I, want to be free of this system that land and water is property. That they belong to us rather than that we belong to mother earth.

TALREJA: Led by youth drummers, the march wound its way through the heart of Toronto, Canada’s largest city, and its financial capital. Unhappiness about cronyism and favoritism, dissatisfaction with austerity and privatization of public resources. Perturbed about the under-funding of transit, health, and education, and anger at secretly-negotiated trade agreements is bubbling below the surface.

The fact that such a large coalition has come together is something that will likely to have caught the attention of the political establishment.

PROTESTERS: –democracy looks like. [Response] This is what democracy looks like. [Call] Show me what democracy looks like. [Response] This is what democracy looks like.

KRISTEN PERRY, DIVEST MCGILL: I think it’s really hard to see sometimes when our leaders aren’t standing up and taking the leadership that they need to on climate. The science is very clear. We’re seeing people being affected all over the world from climate change, and a lot of people still aren’t doing anything about it. But then there are grassroots organizations, are everyday, normal people just like us coming out here and really having our voices heard and coming together to work together, and so I think that’s really inspiring. I think that helps me keep optimistic even in the face of a lot of the challenges on climate change.

NIGEL BARRIFFE, TEACHER, UARR: So we’ve got a Canadian government that continues to subsidize the fossil fuel industry instead of looking for green alternatives and creating the conditions for a new green economy. You know, our children and our children’s children are depending on what we do at this moment. And that, the October 2015 federal election is that moment in time, another moment in time we have to make significant change in our country.

CLAYTON THOMAS MULLER, 350.ORG: It’s indigenous peoples and peoples of color that tend to be impacted the most by the most high-carbon emitting industries. Like industries like the car sands for example. There are cancer clusters in all of the Native communities downstream from the tar sands. This is a fundamental human rights issue. The issue of the intersection between energy development and climate change. And so for us, our goal today is to really break down the walls between these different movement silos and to facilitate convergence between the human rights movement and the environmental movement into one new movement for climate justice that talks about the root causes of climate change, capitalism, the neoliberal agenda, to really expose the power brokers of the current status quo.

TALREJA: Reporting for the Real News, this is Sanjay Talreja in Toronto.

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