The chilly weather did not stop 50 thousand protestors from demanding stricter laws and regulations against climate change from Quebec Premier François Legault’s government on Nov. 10.
“We want to believe that [Legault] will make the environment a top priority, and we want to make sure his actions will match his words,” said Nathalie Roy, a spokesperson of The Planet Goes to Parliament, the non-profit group that organized the march. “Right now, the picture does not seem coherent.”
The Great Climate March began at 2:30 p.m. at Place des Festivals and ended at the Mordecai Richler gazebo in Mount Royal Park two hours later.
Many participants carried placards with slogans such as, “Change the way you consume,” “Climate Justice. Indigenous Sovereignty” and “All together for our planet.” Throughout the march, demonstrators chanted, “There is no planet B” and “Here and now, for the future of our children.”
According to Roy, one catalyst of the march was the heat wave that killed more than 90 people in Quebec over the summer. “The problem we have is that people seem to treat [natural disasters] as isolated phenomena,” said Roy. “Climate change is happening now, and we can no longer remain in denial.”
The Planet Goes to Parliament made three demands of Legault and his administration, including the development of a provincial climate plan in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and completely eliminate them by 2050. The organization also called on the government to raise awareness about the current climate emergency and threats to biodiversity.
Additionally, the group demanded the government ban new oil and gas exploration and development projects, and put an end to all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies.
“We tend to think that changing our lifestyles is going to be hard,” Roy said. “Maybe changing our lifestyles will improve our quality of life—more time and less work.” Roy added that these changes would include an increased use of public transit and reduced work hours.
Patrick Bonin, a spokesperson for Greenpeace Canada who attended the protest, said his role is to make sure citizens are pressuring the Quebec government to do its part to protect the environment. “We still have time to change, but there’s no more time to waste,” he said.
Bonin said if the government does not take the issue to heart, people will take matters into their own hands. “If they can’t be responsible,” he said, “we will responsibilize them” through non-violent civil disobedience such as sitting in front of the offices of members of parliament and blocking construction and gas exploration projects.Some of the march’s participants spoke about the importance of attending the march and fighting for an eco-friendly economy. Caroline Beyor said she wants to see real changes in her daily life, including a reduction of plastic and more government-run companies at grocery stores.
“I want to be sure what they’re selling me is safe for our planet,” Beyor said. “I want to rely on the government and not on profit.”
Beyor also recommended Montrealers stop buying things they do not or rarely use, and consider going vegan.
“Be the change,” she told The Concordian. “Be the example. You can’t change everybody. Do it yourself, and people will follow.”
Photos by Mackenzie Lad.