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We can only imagine the chaos if Monday morning commuters trying to cross the Hillsborough Bridge connecting Charlottetown and Stratford were blocked by climate crisis protesters.
The same can’t be said for other cities around the world, including Halifax, where the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge was blocked for about three-and-ahalf hours.
The goal by the group of protesters — Extinction Rebellion — was a call to political leaders to take action on the climate emergency we are all facing. Instead, the demonstrations left people angry, especially motorists trying to get to work on time.
While we certainly support this group’s right to protest the climate record of various countries, including our own, this is a counter-productive way to get their message across and gain support from the public.
Our local chapter of Extinction Rebellion has had mixed results with the public so far. In March, they held peaceful demonstrations in Charlottetown by slowing traffic on Great George Street by crossing the road over and over again. The demonstrations moved to the Charlottetown Mall later in the day. No one was really bothered by these demonstrations.
A month later, the group’s local founder Daphnée Azoulay was arrested for causing a disturbance at a city council meeting. The disturbance she allegedly caused was stepping inside the council chambers gate with a “Declare a Climate Emergency” banner, and refused to go to the public gallery.
This group got the media coverage it wanted, but at the time, it also left many of us with a bad impression of their tactics rather than a better understanding of the climate emergency that we’re in.
A Guardian reader has also pointed out that the Halifax protest likely had a negative impact on the environment by forcing people to drive longer routes to get into Halifax over the A. Murray MacKay Bridge or via Bedford and idle longer in a traffic jams.
Inconsistencies can be easy to find sometimes, as with the global climate strike on Sept. 27 where at least one gas-guzzling pickup truck had a ‘Climate Emergency: Act Now’ sign displayed on the tailgate. On a larger front, let’s not forget that our federal government, and we, as taxpayers, actually own a pipeline. How’s that for a consistent position on the climate crisis?
The P.E.I. group did hold a demonstration on the Hillsborough Bridge on Monday, but they held signs in the shoulder area. It was the right decision not to block traffic, and we’re left with a better impression of the group’s local chapter as a result.
We’re clearly at a point in our history when people are more receptive to climate issues than ever before. Groups don’t need to pull stunts that disrupt people’s lives to get them to listen. People are already listening.