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Two Ryerson students were arrested yesterday on Parliament Hill while protesting the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project, according to Divest Ryerson’s Facebook page.
The students were identified as Ben Donato-Woodger and Emma Beattie who were among more than 200 people from all across Canada to call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to reject the Kinder Morgan pipeline that will run from the Alberta oilsands to the Burrard Inlet in Burnaby, B.C.
According to Donato-Woodger, protesters marched from the University of Ottawa to Parliament Hill to hold the government accountable for its decision regarding the pipeline’s construction. The police had barricaded entrances into the House of Commons, but the protesters were insistent on getting inside.
“They [police] warned that if we crossed, we would be arrested,” said Donato-Woodger. From the crowd, 99 students who crossed the barricades were arrested. While they were not criminally charged or ticketed, they received a notice for trespassing.
The focus of the demonstration was to delay the approval of the expansion of the pipeline, a decision the Liberals have to make by mid-December.
However, the larger goal was to call on Trudeau to keep his word on Canada’s international emissions-cutting promises, according to Donato-Woodger.
“We know we can turn a delay into a rejection but it looks like Trudeau will fast-track the approval,” said Donato-Woodger. “The tar sands are the biggest growing sector of emissions. We would be meeting our international obligation if it wasn’t for that. We wanted to send a message that he [Trudeau] needs to reject pipelines and get serious about climate change.”
Tamara Jones, the vice-president of equity at the Ryerson Students’ Union, says this was the largest act of student climate civil disobedience, the protest has and will bring attention to the problems people see in the pipeline construction.
“I feel like they went there knowing that this would happen,” said Jones. “I also feel like the photos and video that have been gotten from this opportunity are going to be shared very widely and get a lot of attention so I think in some respects that’s what they were looking for.”