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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Alberta premier Jason Kenney declared a public health state of emergency Tuesday and sweeping new measures as COVID-19 cases in the province continue to rise. (photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Kenney declares state of public health emergency as COVID-19 cases rise

High schools shift to online learning, businesses face new restrictions

The tree decorated in red decorations is called the Buffalo Plaid Cottage Tree. Papple says this tree has more of a "taditional, cottage-y feel." (Photo Submitted)
Sylvan Lake resident auctioning decorated Christmas trees to help local charities

Shauntel Papple is auctioning two fully decorated trees to benefit AACS and Youth Unlimited

A roundabout is proposed at the intersection of Hwy 11 and 781. (Photo Courtesy of McElhanney Engineering)
Twinning of Hwy. 11 to see roundabouts at Sylvan Lake, Benalto and Eckville intersections

Five roundabouts are planned along Hwy. 11 as part of the previously announced twinning

On Sept. 29 the First Sylvan Lake Sparks decorated the sidewalks at the Bethany Care Centre with pictures and uplifting messages. Pictured left to right are Maddie, Nora, Teagan, and Isabelle. At the time all Girl Guide meetings and activities had to be held outside. (Photo Submitted)
Sylvan Lake Girl Guides planning cookie drive-thru this weekend

The cookie drive-thru is Nov. 29 from 12-4 in the high school parking lot

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced the province surpasses one million COVID-19 tests Friday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
COVID-19: Central zone active cases up by 100 in last 24 hours

Most central Alberta communities under province’s enhanced measures list

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday Nov. 23, 2020, that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
VIDEO: How do the leading COVID vaccines differ? And what does that mean for Canada?

All three of the drug companies are incorporating novel techniques in developing their vaccines

Ilaria Rubino is shown in this undated handout image at University of Alberta. Alberta researcher Rubino has developed technology allowing mostly salt to kill pathogens in COVID-19 droplets as they land on a mask. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-University of Alberta
Alberta researcher gets award for COVID-19 mask innovation

The salt-coated mask is expected to be available commercially next year after regulatory approval.

Russ and Luanne Carl are sharing about their experiences of fighting COVID-19 this past summer. (Photo submitted)
Stettler couple opens up about COVID-19 battle

Luanne and Russ Carl urge others to bolster personal safety measures amidst ongoing pandemic

This 2019 photo provided by The ALS Association shows Pat Quinn. Quinn, a co-founder of the viral ice bucket challenge, died Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, at the age of 37. (Scott Kauffman/The ALS Association via AP)
Co-founder of viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge dies at 37

Pat Quinn was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in 2013

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti speaks with the media following party caucus in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Exclusion of mental health as grounds for assisted death is likely temporary: Lametti

Senators also suggested the exclusion renders the bill unconstitutional

Claudio Mastronardi, Toronto branch manager at Carmichael Engineering, is photographed at the company’s offices in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. As indoor air quality becomes a major concern in places of business, HVAC companies are struggling to keep up with demand for high quality filtration systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Business is booming for HVAC companies as commercial buildings see pandemic upgrades

‘The demand right now is very high. People are putting their health and safety ahead of cost’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Long-awaited federal rent subsidy program for businesses hurt by COVID-19 opens today

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest

Most Read