January 23, 2020

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Safe air, clean water: Canadian climate strike protesters have demands

A protester wears a mask that reads "Save Me" during a Global Climate Strike, protesting against climate change and inaction, on Parliament Hill on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

A protester wears a mask that reads "Save Me" during a Global Climate Strike, protesting against climate change and inaction, on Parliament Hill on Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Thousands of Canadians hit the streets Friday demanding change to stop the effects of climate change. Canadians joined people all over the world in demonstrations sparked by 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who started the global climate protest movement.

Climate Strike Canada — a network of students, young people and activists spearheading the marches — put out a list of demands:

Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in full.

Protection of most affected groups

Recognize Canada's disproportionate role in the climate crisis, and our subsequent responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. Include the addition of climate displacement as a basis for refugee status. Provide climate aid to lower- and middle-income countries, as well as Arctic Canada, which inordinately experience the immediate impacts of global warming.

A just transition

Transition to renewable energy and sustainable transportation infrastructure, while guaranteeing opportunity for fossil fuel workers in the new economy.

Environmental rights

Enshrine in law the fundamental right to a healthy environment. This would include, but is not limited to, the right to safe air, clean water, and healthy soil.

Conservation of biodiversity

Maintain and protect old growth forests, restore cutblocks, reduce habitat fragmentation, and strengthen the protection of at-risk species.

Separation of oil and state

Reject all new fossil fuel extraction or transportation projects, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, and price pollution.

Bold greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets

Legislate net greenhouse gas emission reductions of 75 per cent over 2005 levels by 2030.

Toronto's demands

In addition to the national list, organizers of Toronto's climate strike are calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and higher taxation for the rich.

"We are calling for an end to the hoarding of wealth by the same small percentage of Canadians who control the extractive industries that are causing ecological deterioration."

Toronto demonstrators are also asking for refugee and migrant justice, which includes "an end to deportations and detentions; decent, low-carbon work for migrants; and full access to the universal public services."

"We demand quality public services for all, including universal health and dental care, pharmacare, public education, free university/college, child care, settlement services, legal aid, and pensions; housing as a human right, including high-density, retrofitted, green public housing, alongside rent control and less urban sprawl in the suburbs; free, electrified, fully accessible public transit; and local community ownership, such as neighbourhood transition councils."

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