Canadian youth ejected from COP17 for standing up to the Tar Sands

• December 7, 2011
Canadian Youth Delegation turn their backs on Peter Kent at COP17

Courtesy: Canadian Youth Delegation, 2011

Members of the Canadian Youth Delegation were ejected from COP17 today as Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent delivered his opening address at the United Nations climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa. Just as Kent began his speech, six youth stood and turned away from the Minister revealing the message “Turn your back on Canada” prominently displayed on their shirts.

“Our so-called Environment Minister entered these talks by going on record that he would be defending the tar sands. I have yet to hear him say that he’s here to defend my future,” said James Hutt, one of the youth delegates who participated in the action.

The six youth, including Brigette DePape (the “Rogue Page”) received an ovation from the crowd watching the Minister’s address. They were escorted out of the International Convention Center’s plenary hall and removed from the premises at 12:30 p.m local time. Their accreditation was revoked upon their removal.

“This extraction-happy government hasn’t limited their reckless behaviour the climate talks here in Durban,” said Tasha Peters. “Canada has been called out for lobbying to lower EU fuel quality regulations to allow the expansion of  world’s largest and most destructive mega-project – the Alberta tar sands.”

As the negotiations have progressed in Durban, Canada has won 12 ‘Fossil of the Day’ awards due to their action in Durban. Over the past week and a half youth have challenged Canada’s irresponsible Canadian negotiation strategies, indicative of the close relationship between Canada’s climate policy and dirty fossil fuels.

“By stalling international progress, the actions of this government put the future of our country and our generation in danger; we won’t take that sitting down,” said James Hutt. “As long as Canada is at the negotiation table promoting industry over human rights,  we will never see the climate agreement the world needs. It’s time to leave Canada behind.”

Comments (3)

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  1. Yaw says:

    Really admire their courage, if we could all be this objective and call a spade a spade instead of covering for our countries or families. Let the right thing be done

  2. Juan says:

    This type of behaviour is completely innappropriate in a plenary session of a multilateral forum. The prinicples of respect and int’l diplomacy are foundational to provide a safe space for negotiating very disparate ideas among diverse cultures. The work is too damn important.

    Not to say that frustrations or protests are wrong, but respect for the diplomatic process must be complete. The place for dissent requires more creativity than interupting a plenary session. The candanian youth need to apologize to the delegates from 190 countries; for interupting their time, disrespecting the diplomatic process and violating behvioral norms that are critical to surpass the difficult challenges ahead.

    My hope is that that those youth return to Canada, and immediately begin work to get the tar sands politicians voted out of office.

  3. Juanj says:

    Violating the norms of diplomatic plenaries is unacceptable. A safe space enabling the negotiation of disparate beliefs on such important issues is absolutely critical. Protests in a UN plenary session are juvenileand counter productive to everyones goals.

    The youth should apologize to the delegates from 190+ countries for disrespecting established international norms that are key to resolving the backlog of fundamental challenges to our human society.

    However, my personal hope is now that those youth return to Canada, they get to work to have those tar sand politicians voted out of office as soon as possible.

    Interupting a UN plenary session was wrong.


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