Greenpeace Volunteers Rally at Toronto Federal Debates

With three weeks until the federal election, Canadians concerned with climate protection are taking action to let our political leaders know we expect the same from them. At Monday evening's Munk debate in downtown Toronto, a dedicated group tried to make this  message loud and clear during a rally outside  Roy Thompson Hall, in a continuation of Greenpeace's 'I Vote Climate’ campaign that has seen volunteers  across Canada have engaging in direct action.

The campaign’s goal is to send the message to our political leaders that climate issues are important to Canadians, and that to garner our votes we want to see them committing to a sustainable, renewable future. Some of the key we are seeking action on are ending tar sands expansion, committing to 100% renewable energy by 2050, protecting the Arctic from oil drilling, and promising a truly democratic energy economy.

On Monday night, a few of us met at the office at 5pm to carry materials over to Roy Thompson Hall, where we would meet the rest of the volunteers to form a group of fifteen. Our levels of energy and anticipation were high during the walk over, and we were excited to arrive at the site of the debates to find that large crowds had already gathered. Many advocacy groups had turned out to rally before the debates began at 7pm, and luckily for us, the predicted rain held off.  We donned our T-shirts and set up alongside the action with volunteers holding signage, handing out flyers and pins, and worked with iPads to collect signatures for our ‘I Vote Climate’ petition. All of us sought to engage passersby, of which there were many both heading home from work and coming to check out the action, and disseminate information about our campaign. A high-energy moment was when the various party members’ buses drove by as they headed in to begin the debates, and we found we were in a great position at the side of the street for the leaders to see us with our signs held high!

The crowd in general was very receptive to our message and we got to have some great conversations with people who were interested in hearing more about our campaign and the climate issues we are concerned with. The few who we engaged who didn’t want to sign the petition expressed simply that they wanted to find out more about our campaign and goals first; in which case we were more than happy to discuss the issues, hand out flyers and point them to our websites and recent published renewable energy report. It was great to see citizens valuing critical thinking and being knowledgeable about the subjects they encounter; this is the kind of attitude it’s great to see in our citizens and voters!

After the debates began, the crowds began to depart, and around 8pm we decided to pack up and part ways. A few of us headed back to the office together, keen to find someplace we could watch what was actually going on at the debates! Overall, the event felt to all of us like a great success, and it was inspiring to see so many people getting involved in the elections and issues they are passionate about. I think we definitely got our message out and our presence there was an asset to the campaign.

Want to get involved in activities like this? We have plenty more exciting things planned! Join the ‘I Vote Climate’ group here on Greenwire to hear about our upcoming events, sign our petition or see toolkits for how to help in your area.