Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is standing by his accusation that environmentalist David Suzuki was inciting violence with his comments at a climate change protest over the weekend.
The premier first made the claim in a tweet that linked to a National Post article, which quoted Suzuki as saying: “There are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.”
Suzuki made the comments amid a “Funeral for the Future” protest in Victoria on Saturday, organized by the environmental group Extinction Rebellion.
This incitement to violence by David Suzuki is dangerous, and should be condemned universally.<br><br>In Canada we resolve our differences peacefully and democratically, not with threats of terrorism or acts of violence.<a href=”https://t.co/6qFXmgvOam”>https://t.co/6qFXmgvOam</a>
At a news conference on Tuesday, Kenney reiterated that he believes Suzuki is implicitly inciting people to eco-terrorism.
“It’s like in the gangster movies where they say, ‘You know, nice little pipeline you’ve got there. It’d be a terrible thing if something happened to it.’ This is totally irresponsible,” he said.
Kenney added that Suzuki has a track record of outrageous comments that should have had him “cancelled.”
WATCH | The premier defends his Twitter comments accusing David Suzuki of inciting violence:
He cited an example from 2016, when Suzuki opined that former prime minister Stephen Harper should serve prison time for “wilful blindness” to climate change, which was reported by the National Post at the time.
“We resolve differences peacefully and democratically — not by threatening to throw our opponents in jail,” Kenney said.
“And now he’s basically saying, ‘Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, be a terrible thing if something happens to those pipelines.’ This is outrageous and should be called out as such.”
The premier also criticized CBC News and other organizations for giving Suzuki a platform.
Suzuki told CBC News he does not condone blowing up pipelines, but that he suggested he fears it may happen if groups get fed up with inaction.
“Our leaders are not listening to the urgency that is demanded to meet the issue of climate change. And I was worried that this is just the next step — if it goes on — to people blowing up pipelines,” he said.
Many climate-related protests have been examples of “peaceful civic disobedience,” Suzuki said, suggesting the violence is coming from government and the RCMP.
“If you look at the people at Fairy Creek, what are they doing? They’re fighting to protect Mother Earth, and the violence is all coming from the forces that want to maintain the status quo,” said Suzuki, referring to anti-logging protests on Vancouver Island that have continued for more than a year.
Suzuki said he feels Kenney is deflecting from the important issue of climate change by making things political, as well as knocking the credibility of critics.
“He doesn’t discuss climate change. It’s all, ‘These people are against the Alberta economy or they’re foreign-funded radicals,'” he said.
“I would suggest that, right now, his avoidance of the serious discussion about climate change [and] Alberta’s role in that and where to go in the future is something that is very, very serious for voters to think about.”
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