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Canadian PM met by multiple tar sands protests in London

Five activists arrested after blocking the entrance to Harper's speech and scaling the roof of Parliament

by UK Tar Sands Network

Around 50 protesters turned out at UK Parliament to protest Harper - credit Rajan Zaveri
Around 50 protesters turned out at UK Parliament to protest Harper - credit Rajan Zaveri
Protesters arrested after blocking gate to Harper's speech. Credit Rajan Zaveri
Protesters arrested after blocking gate to Harper's speech. Credit Rajan Zaveri
Credit Rajan Zaveri
Credit Rajan Zaveri
Credit Rajan Zaveri
Credit Rajan Zaveri
Suzanne Dhaliwal of UK Tar Sands Network - credit Rajan Zaveri
Suzanne Dhaliwal of UK Tar Sands Network - credit Rajan Zaveri

Press release: 13.06.2013 

Canadian PM met by multiple tar sands protests in London

- Stephen Harper met by large crowd of protesters from 30 environmental and human rights groups
- Five activists arrested after blocking the entrance to Harper's speech and scaling the roof of Parliament
- 6 MPs table an Early Day Motion to keep tar sands out of Europe
- Harper criticised for using trip to lobby against EU climate legislation and spread misinformation
- Brigette DePape's 'Stop Harper' page protest recreated outside Houses of Parliament

For more information, interviews, photos and footage: Jess Worth (UK Tar Sands Network) +44 7946645726, Suzanne Dhaliwal (UK Tar Sands Network) +44 7939 519963 or email info@no-tar-sands.org Please credit Rajan Zaveri for use of photos.

LONDON UK: Today, Canada's controversial leader Stephen Harper was met by three separate protests as he attempted to deliver a prestigious speech to both Houses of the UK Parliament. He arrived in the UK on Tuesday, and has been using the trip to lobby against the 'Fuel Quality Directive'.[1] This key piece of EU climate legislation would - rightly - label tar sands oil as more polluting than conventional oil. 50 campaigners representing 30 environmental groups gathered outside Parliament to greet Harper's car with anti-tar sands banners, placards and chants.[2] One protester was dressed as Senate Page Brigette DePape who was fired after holding a "Stop Harper" sign on the Canadian Senate floor in 2011. [3]

Meanwhile, in a separate protest two activists from a group calling themselves "Love Canada, Hate Tar Sands"(LCHTS) attempted to block the Sovereign's Entrance Gate to the room where Harper was speaking. They poured "oil" on themselves and the ground, and their anti-tar sands shouts were heard inside the room as Harper stood up to begin his address. They were then arrested by police.

At the same time, three more activists from LCHTS entered the Parliament building and scaled the roof, in an attempt to get to where Harper was speaking. Wearing "No Tar Sands" and "Stop Harper" T-shirts they livestreamed their protest for some time until being removed by security and later arrested.

According to the Love Canada, Hate Tar Sands' website [4], "Prime Minister Harper has shown time and again that nothing will stand between him and developing dirty tar sands, even though tar sands will create unprecedented global warming... Instead of honoured, Harper should be shamed internationally but he is instead invited to address both Houses of Parliament. Harper has taken Canada down a dangerous climate path, destroyed whole ecosystems and overriding centuries-old treaty rights... We will not let this go unchallenged."

Also today, 6 MPs from four different political parties tabled an Early Day Motion calling on the UK government to resist Canada's lobbying campaign, support the Fuel Quality Directive and discourage future tar sands imports.[5] All other MPs will now be encouraged to sign, in the run-up to an EU Member States' vote later this year. 

The protest outside Parliament had transatlantic support from 30 organisations, including Greenpeace UK, Friends of the Earth - England, Wales and Northern Ireland and World Development Movement in the UK, the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign in Canada, and 350.org and the Gulf Coast Fund in the US. 

Jess Worth, from UK Tar Sands Network, said: 'Today's multiple protests demonstrate just how strongly people in the UK feel about the Harper government's attempts to force their dirty tar sands oil onto Europe. This is part of an unstoppable global movement of resistance to tar sands extraction, expansion and pipelines. The science is clear: to have a chance of avoiding runaway climate change, we need to leave unconventional fossil fuels in the ground. It's time the Harper government accepted this fact and stopped putting the interests of Big Oil above all our collective futures.'  

The tar sands have been called 'game over for the climate' by top climate scientist James Hansen, due to the vast potential reserves of this unconventional fuel, and its carbon-intensive extraction process.[6] Locally, new extraction projects are being opposed by First Nations suffering their ill-effects, such as the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and the Beaver Lake Cree.[7] There are strong opposition movements to opening up the tar sands to new markets via pipelines such as the Keystone XL in the States and the Enbridge Northern Gateway in British Columbia.[8] For peer-reviewed facts and figures on the true impact of the tar sands, see tarsandsrealitycheck.com.

Stephen Harper is the latest in a string of top Canadian politicians to come to Europe, partly with the aim of lobbying against the EU Fuel Quality Directive which could label the tar sands as more polluting than conventional oil and discourage its future import, closing off Europe as a desperately-needed potential market. [9] The Canadian government has continued to spread misinformation about the Directive during Harper's trip. Harper is also hoping to seal the deal on the controversial Canada-EU free trade agreement (CETA), which could also provide a boost to the tar sands industry, giving oil and gas companies more rights than communities and making it much more difficult for the UK and EU to seriously address climate change in the future. [10]

Notes: 
1. The Fuel Quality Directive is a piece of EU legislation to reduce emissions from the transport sector. See: http://www.no-tar-sands.org/campaigns/dirty-diplomacy-tar-sands-lobbying-and-the-fuel-quality-directive/ It aims to put an emissions intensity label on all sources of fuel, including tar sands. In a Montreal Gazette article published on Tuesday, Harper’s spokesman, Andrew MacDougall claims: “We don’t want to see arbitrary standards applied against Canadian oilsands crude. We want it judged on science and in fair comparison with other sources of oil.” This is pure misinformation. In fact, the FQD is not arbitrary, unscientific nor discriminatory. It is based on sound, peer-reviewed science. It does not discriminate against Canada, because it puts a label on fuels, not where they come from - so tar sands imports from Madagascar would be treated exactly the same. And far from unfairly singling out the tar sands it aims to put an emissions label on all different sources of fuel, including conventional oil, oil shale, coal to liquid and biofuels. Link to the article: http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/story.html?id=8509276 Link to detailed information about the FQD: http://www.transportenvironment.org/what-we-do/dirty-oil-whats-problem
2. For more information about the protest, see http://www.no-tar-sands.org/events/tell-harper/ The full list of supporting organisations is: UK Tar Sands Network, Greenpeace UK, World Development Movement, Earth Peoples, Campaign Against Climate Change, Healthy Planet UK, PLATFORM, Occupy London Energy, Equity and Environment Group, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Lush Cosmetics, Council of Canadians, Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Sierra Club Canada, People & Planet, Push Europe, UK Youth Climate Coalition, Shift Campaign, Earth in Brackets, Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth, 350.org, Greenpeace Canada, Canadian Indigenous Tar Sands Campaign, Climate Justice Collective, Extreme Energy Initiative of the Human Rights Consortium - University of London, Friends of the Earth - England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Fast for the Earth, London Rising Tide, Climate Rush, Turkey Creek Community Initiatives, Gulf Coast Fund. 
3. See 'Senate page fired for anti-Harper protest', CBC, 
http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/06/03/pol-senate-page.html
4. http://lovecanadahatetarsands.tumblr.com/
5. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/240
6. 'Tar sands exploitation would mean game over for climate, warns leading scientist', Damian Carrington, Guardian, 19 may 2013,http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/may/19/tar-sands-exploitation-climate-scientist
7. The Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation are currently taking legal action against Shell: http://acfnchallenge.wordpress.com/ and the Beaver Lake Cree have recently been given leave to go to trial over violations of treaty rights: 'Alberta First Nations band wins right to trial over oil sands’ effect on treaty rights', Globe and Mail, Carrie Tait and Kelly Cryderman,  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/alberta-first-nations-band-wins-right-to-trial-over-oil-sands-effect-on-treaty-rights/article12353571/
8. For the widespread opposition to the Keystone XL campaign, see: http://tarsandssolutions.org/campaigns/keystone-xl The British Columbia goverment recently came out against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, dealing it what is likely to turn out to be its deathblow: 
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/05/31/bc-northern-gateway-rejected.html 
9. Both Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Environment Minister Peter Kent came over on lobbying trips last month. For more background to Canada's aggressive lobbying over the Fuel Quality Directive, see: http://www.no-tar-sands.org/2013/05/uk-caught-in-battle-over-canadian-tar-sands/
10. For more information about CETA and opposition to it, see: http://www.canadians.org/trade/issues/EU/index.html .  For an analysis of how it could boost the tar sands industry and dangerously constrain future environmental regulation, see: 'Keep Europe out of the Tar Sands', http://canadians.org/trade/documents/CETA/briefing-CETA-tarsands.pdf and 'Tar sands and the CETA',  http://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/updates/tar-sands-and-ceta

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