This is an edited version of a speech that Naomi Klein gave on May 21 in downtown Toronto, at a press conference announcing the upcoming March for Jobs, Justice and the Climate on July 5. Video of Klein’s full speech is also included below. It was originally posted at http://
I’ve had the incredible privilege of traveling around the world and meeting with activists, labor unions, and politicians who are focusing on climate change. I want to tell you that that the coalition of groups we’re witnessing being assembled here in Canada is unique: organizations representing the most marginalized people in Toronto; First Nations who are our water and carbon keepers; environmentalists waging inspiring divestment campaigns; and the trade-union movement, including the country’s largest private-sector union representing workers at the heart of the fossil-fuel economy. We understand that we have key differences, but we also understand that what unites us is greater.
That’s why we’re coming together in Toronto on July 5 for a march for jobs, justice, and climate action. What you’re seeing are the first steps towards a new kind of climate movement. It’s a climate movement that recognizes that time is too short to allow our divisions to keep us from building the kind of coalitions that will safeguard life on earth.
Canadians are clearly getting tired of the fossil-fuel roller coaster. Tired of being told we have to sacrifice our environmental protections and our international standing when times for industry are good. Of seeing our budgets for social programs slashed and livelihoods destroyed when times for industry are bad. It turns out we sacrifice on the upside and we sacrifice on the downside.
We’re tired of seeing the quest for super-profits cause the degradation of Indigenous lands, workers’ safety, and immigrant rights during those boom years. We’re tired of seeing reduced profits used as the excuse for mass lay-offs, for broken contracts, for lowered safety standards, and for increased racism against immigrants during the bust years. We’re tired of having a petro-currency that destroys manufacturing when times are up. We’re tired of picking up the pieces when times are down.
We’re tired of the huge physical costs of digging up and burning this much carbon. Tired of the polluted rivers, the exploding oil trains, the extreme weather linked to climate change. We are tired, too, of the merger between our government and the extractive sector.
Tired of having a prime minister who bullies other nations into taking our oil and building our pipelines when they don’t want them.