People crammed the streets in the tens of thousands on Sunday as crowds descended on downtown Montreal in a massive demonstration to mark Earth Day. La Presse called it a “human forest,” and reported that police estimated around 150,000 people joined the march. Organizers said there were 300,000.
As the Montreal Gazette reports, demonstrators expressed anger over Quebec’s Plan Nord strategy to invest in the development of the mining industry in the northern region of the province. Others were critical of the federal Conservative government for pulling out the Kyoto Protocol, and for a lack of environmental oversight in Alberta’s oilsands.
“I am not any kind of activist, but I am fed up with the government, about how it is handling the environment and how often I hear about corruption when I turn on the news,” Claudine Allaire, a senior citizen from the Laurentians, told the newspaper.
“It feels like we’re not on the same page,” said Melanie Demers, 38, told the CBC. “It feels as if they’re running a business, but I think that it’s more than running a business to run a country or a province.”
Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair participated in the march, signing a petition in support of the Kyoto Protocol. Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Québecois, was also on hand, the CBC reports.
In contrast to the violent scenes in the city last week amid the series student demonstrations against tuition hikes, the Earth Day protest march was a peaceful affair. Many participants reportedly brought their kids to join the march. According to the CBC, organizers had contacted student groups beforehand to remind them that the Earth Day march was a family-oriented affair.