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By: Saad Ejaz

On Jan. 26, dozens rallied outside the Federal Building in Hamilton to call on the Trudeau government to keep its promises on climate change.

The crowd carried signs and posters advocating for divestment from fossil fuels that read “Divest from oil, invest in our future.”

Leading up to the election in October and the Paris climate change conference in December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed climate change extensively and discussed the need to overhaul the National Energy board Pipeline review process. He also promised to include members of Indigenous communities in this discussion.

However, those who were present at the rally expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s actions so far.

Don McLean, an attendee, said that he along with other members of the community want the Trudeau government to be proactive on climate change.

“Promised in the election campaign, both verbally and in their platform, that they would stop this broken process of pipeline reviews … We also want him to keep his promise to the planet, which he took in Paris.”

The question the protesters aimed at the Trudeau government is simple: How can Canada be a world leader in climate change and continue the destructive environmental projects of pipeline expansions?

Hearings for the Kinder Morgan pipelines resumed on Jan. 19 despite opposition from environmental groups. The pipeline project would allow three times more bitumen across southern British Columbia through the Vancouver harbour. While the hearings for the project are underway, so are protests and rallies.

Recently, Enbridge proposed an eastern pipeline. The Energy East project is a 4,600 km pipeline that will transport approximately 1.1 million barrels of oil per day from Alberta to Eastern Canada.

The crowd carried signs and posters advocating for divestment from fossil fuels that read “Divest from oil, invest in our future.”

“We already have serious climate change, we have to keep more 80 percent of the fossil fuels that we know about in the ground. And in terms of the tar sands, we need to virtually keep all of it there […] We don’t want to see any expansion of pipelines or fossil fuel extraction. We need to go in the other direction and it is to move towards renewable energy,” said McLean.

The rally was organized by Hamilton 350, a local chapter of the national climate change organization.

A number of different organizations attended the rally, including Council of Canadians Hamilton Chapter, Fossil Free McMaster and a number of sub-organizations within Hamilton 350 such as Environment Hamilton and The Blue Dot.

Mary Ann Blair, another attendee, thinks that there is still time for positive change.

“I personally don’t believe that it is an impossible situation. I believe that it is a situation that can inspire and is inspiring great human creativity … We can’t deal with this anymore. We need to realize it’s possible. And that’s why we are here. Change is possible. We don’t have to do things the same old way.”

Kazlyn Bonner, a member of Hamilton 350, urges Hamiltonians and students to become active on the issue of climate change.

“Whether you change your specific or small habits … Whether that action is in the form of signing a petition, or writing to MPs or even going to protests and rallies, and participating in a more visible way … there’s no action that is too small,” said Bonner.

Hamilton 350 will discuss plans for the upcoming months at a public meeting on Feb. 24 at 294 James St. N.

Photo Credit: Saad Ejaz

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