Legault condemns Québec Solidaire’s position on climate protest action

Climate activists with the Quebec chapter of Extinction Rebellion scaled the structure of Montreal's Jacques Cartier Bridge Tuesday.
Climate activists with the Quebec chapter of Extinction Rebellion scaled the structure of Montreal's Jacques Cartier Bridge Tuesday. Brayden Jagger Haines/Global News

The government of Quebec Premier François Legault has condemned an opposition party for refusing to denounce the actions of climate activists who scaled a Montreal bridge and overtook a downtown street on Tuesday.

Legault called on his Québec Solidaire counterpart Wednesday to strongly condemn the efforts of climate activists who paralyzed traffic for hours in the Montreal area.

But the left-leaning party doubled down on its support for the environmental activists behind the disruptive action, while accusing Legault’s Coalition Avenir Québec government of skirting the issue.

READ MORE: About 30 climate protesters arrested in downtown Montreal

Québec Solidaire’s co-spokesperson, Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, said Wednesday the Legault government is using outrage over the protests to shield from its own “climate-passivity.”

“The planet is burning, but the priority of (Environment Minister) Benoit Charette and (Premier) François Legault, is the attitude of Québec Solidaire,” said Nadeau-Dubois, whose party does not have a formal leader.

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The comments came after Legault and several ministers, including Charette and Transport Minister François Bonnardel, denounced the opposition party’s lack of criticism.

Québec Solidaire was the only provincial party that did not denounce the tactics employed by the group known as Extinction Rebellion during Tuesday’s demonstration.

Nadeau-Dubois said there was no chance the party would do so, noting its position is that if a method of action is peaceful, it is acceptable.

“We are a different kind of political party,” Nadeau-Dubois said. “Because we think that citizens that fight for their rights, that fight for the recognition of climate change as a crisis, should not be condemned when they use pacific, non-violent ways of pressure.”

Click to play video 'Climate protesters scale Jacques Cartier Bridge' Climate protesters scale Jacques Cartier Bridge
Climate protesters scale Jacques Cartier Bridge

Two women, ages 32 and 40, and a 47-year-old man were arrested after climbing up the Jacques Cartier Bridge. One of the three was identified as a Québec Solidaire party member and school teacher.

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Legault questioned the type of lesson the teacher’s alleged actions offer to children, repeating a call to Québec Solidaire’s other co-spokesperson Manon Massé to denounce what he called “an illegal gesture.”

“Protesting in the street and voicing your approval or disapproval with a position is one thing,” Legault said. “Climbing on the structure of a bridge in a dangerous way, obliging police to close a bridge, that’s not a way to protest.”

READ MORE: Does driving less (or not at all) actually help the environment?

After three people were arrested for the bridge action, another 41 were detained for blocking a downtown Montreal street late Tuesday.

On Monday, Extinction Rebellion members blocked bridges in Halifax, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver as part of a global effort to lobby for more urgent action against climate change going on this week.

Founded in Britain last year, the group also known as XR, now has chapters in some 50 countries. It said the protests Monday were taking place in 60 cities worldwide.