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These Activists Are Bombarding Our Federal Leaders with Questions About Climate Change

Annnnnnnnnd the leaders aren't answering.

Outside a campaign event for Harper. Photos courtesy Julianna Duholke

At a late August campaign event in Montreal, Justin Trudeau invited a bunch of people onstage with him while he delivered a speech.

McGill students Julianna Duholke, 22, and Kristen Perry, 21, were among them, and they wasted little time cutting off the Liberal leader mid-sentence.

"We shouted out: 'What about climate justice?'" said Duholke.

The pair is part of a group of Montreal-based shit disturbers who attend campaign rallies with the sole purpose of bombarding politicians with questions about climate change. Their aim is to get environmental issues back on the radar in the lead-up to the election—and to shame federal leaders on their "embarrassingly inadequate policies."


"There's a lot of focus on the economy, for example, when we really need to be thinking about science, about the individuals that are really affected by climate change across the world," Perry told VICE.

At one of Trudeau's campaign events

Although she said it's difficult to gauge, she estimates there are "thousands" of interrupters across the country. Their tactics have produced mixed results.

Trudeau "continued with his talking point that he's going to speak with the provinces and come out with an [emissions reduction target]," said Duholke, who was hoping to hear a firm number.

"That's basically been his line for the entire campaign."

Still, that reaction was considerably warmer than the one they received at a Stephen Harper rally days prior. Neither of the women was able to get a ticket to the event—they think they might've been screened—but their friend who made it inside was almost immediately shut down.

"He had a climate justice sign and as soon as he pulled it out and said, 'What about climate justice?' the sign was immediately ripped down and he was taken out within seconds," said Duholke.

"The whole reception booed him out of the room and cheered once he left, so it was a very aggressive and fast response."

In Monday's Munk debate on foreign policy, Harper bragged about the fall in greenhouse gas emissions under his leadership. Fact checkers, including the Green Party, have pointed out those drops only took place from 2008-2009, a.k.a. peak recession.


"He's just shown complete disregard for any kind of climate science, he's been muzzling our scientists and completely trampling on the rights of… Indigenous communities," said Duholke.

But she's disappointed in all three major parties, noting Mulcair didn't respond to questions posed by fellow interrupters at an NDP event in early September.

"They were able to get that moment of holding up the sign and a small interruption but it didn't really go beyond a 20-second delay in the rally."

Unfazed, the group is planning on disrupting as many events as possible prior to October 19. When that day comes, Duholke told VICE they'll vote strategically to oust Harper.

"He's really made Canada an international embarrassment when it comes to climate action."

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.