Earth Day 2022: Demonstrators target capitalism in Montreal rally

René Bruemmer
People mark Earth Day with a march, Friday, April 22, 2022 in Montreal. PHOTO BY RYAN REMIORZ /The Canadian Press

Apr 22, 2022 

Hundreds marched through the downtown core calling for an end to fossil fuels by 2030 and higher taxes on the rich to fund climate change programs.

Chanting “We want climate justice — now!”, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of Old Montreal and the downtown core Friday afternoon to mark Earth Day.

[See video at link here.]



“One of our demands this year is to cap wealth in order to invest in a social safety net,” said Shirley Barnea, co-spokesperson for Pour le futur — Tiohtià:ke (Montréal), one of the organizers of Friday’s march.


“As climate changes, more and more people will be vulnerable to its effects and we want to support those who will be suffering from that, whether it’s having their homes destroyed by flooding, or who have more illness because they’re suffering from heat waves, or losing their jobs because of how climate change is affecting the economy.”


Higher taxes for the ultra-rich would also serve as a form of climate equality, said Barnea, a 17-year-old student at Collège Ste-Anne, because they have much larger carbon footprints than those who consume and travel less. At the same time, richer countries have an obligation to contribute more to the push to limit climate change because they have historically produced more carbon emissions, she said.


The crowd, which numbered around 500 at its outset from city hall, was considerably smaller than the estimated 500,000 who filled the streets of Montreal in a September 2019 march for climate justice led by global activist Greta Thunberg. Last September’s climate march in Montreal drew several thousand participants.


Québec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé, one of the few politicians present on Friday, said the pandemic has put a damper on recent demonstrations, but not on the ardour of environmentalists.


“I think the pandemic had its effects everywhere, and people were busy taking care of their basic needs,” Massé said.


“That being said, I’m not worried about our youth. Right now there’s a movement of students across Quebec pressuring the federal government to include in its carbon emissions count Canadian oil that is used outside of the country. … Maybe not everyone is out today, but the young are up for the fight. It’s the challenge of their generation.”


Quebec has done a good job by banning all oil and gas development, Massé said. But she said the fact the province is moving forward with adding highways and tunnels that will only increase traffic, and is failing to crack down on large corporate polluters that flout environmental laws, indicates it is still far behind.


While most demonstrators bore signs calling for the reining in of capitalism or banning of fossil fuels by 2030, or for people to just be more aware (“Look up, ostie” read one banner), others had more pointed targets.


Roxanne Barbe Minville, a 29-year-old medical technician student, carried a sign saying “Animal exploitation is ruining our planet.”




Animal-based agriculture, such as the growing of soy to serve as feed, is another major cause of deforestation and global warming, she noted.


“We talk of recycling, or of composting, but the way we exploit animals and the effects it has is rarely spoken of,” she said. “People need to think about that.”

[Top photo: People mark Earth Day with a march, Friday, April 22, 2022 in Montreal. PHOTO BY RYAN REMIORZ /The Canadian Press]