A group of environmental activists occupied Winnipeg South Centre MP Jim Carr’s office for 10 hours last Tuesday, but were still unable to contact Carr.
Activists with the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition (MEJC) arrived at Carr’s office the morning of Sept. 28 shortly after it opened.
Daniel Friesen, an organizer with MEJC, saw the activists’ purpose as twofold.
“We were occupying MP Jim Carr’s office to try and get his attention and present him with the People’s Climate Mandate,” he said.
The mandate is a document prepared by the MEJC. It advocates for an end to all fossil fuel subsidies, an immediate end to all new fossil fuel development projects and for the government to honour the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The activists succeeded in occupying the office but were not able to contact Carr during the occupation.
“There was no real trouble except for the staff not being very communicative about if Jim Carr knew we were there or if he would agree to speak to us,” Friesen said.
“It was very clear that [Carr] was totally unwilling to speak with us, didn’t want to engage with us at all or to even listen to our demands.”
After the office closed, the activists left without incident.
“It was peaceful the whole time, there was no real conflict or anything, and when we decided that we had […] attempted to do what we were there to do, then we decided to leave and we left of our own accord,” Friesen said.
The MEJC chose Carr for their demonstration because of his role in the Liberal Party of Canada’s climate record.
“[Carr has] been a cabinet minister and supporter of the Liberal government’s mandate for the last two terms, and specifically he was minister of natural resources when the Liberal government bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline, which is directly in the face of any kind of climate action,” Friesen said.
“He also has stayed in lockstep with the totally insufficient climate plan that the Liberal government has been trying to claim is progressive.”
Carr acted as minister of natural resources from November 2015 to July 2018 and has publicly said the government was determined to see the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion built.The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion purchase was agreed upon by the federal government and Kinder Morgan in May 2018 but wasn’t finalized until August when shareholders approved the transaction. The price listed in that 2018 agreement was $4.5 billion.
Annie Cullinan, press secretary for Carr’s office, was available for comment but did not directly acknowledge the sit-in when asked.
“Climate change is the greatest threat facing our planet and it demands our urgent, and ongoing, attention. Our government has a renewed mandate to take even bolder action on climate change and Minister Carr looks forward to delivering on our ambitious agenda,” Cullinan said.
Meanwhile, Friesen and the MEJC are still waiting for their meeting with Carr.
“We were simply hoping to chat with him on the phone to set up a future meeting. His staff made it very clear that he was not interested in doing that […] and we would have to wait for another day to even set up an appointment to talk to him,” he said.
“The day after the occupation, one of […] the people who was there the day previous went back first thing in the morning when the office was supposed to be open and there were no staff there. They tried calling the phone number and no one picked up the phone.”
Friesen was not optimistic Carr’s office would call them back.
“They were saying on the day of, ‘Oh yes, tomorrow we can set up an appointment to see him,’ and then when we came back, they again dodged us and totally made it impossible for us to even […] have the conversation to set up an appointment to talk to Jim Carr,” he said.
“So, it’s very clear that they’re not interested in talking with people about their concerns about climate change at all.”
Cullinan stated the office got in touch but did not provide any further details.
“Minister Carr’s office is in communication with members of the organization,” she said.
Friesen acknowledged the office got in touch Friday.
While Friesen remains hopeful smaller change is possible under the Liberal minority, he sees meaningful change as antithetical to Canada as it currently exists.
“It’s a country built on resource extraction, on disenfranchising Indigenous people, on genocide, on white supremacy and for Canada to take real action that’s necessary to move and do the things that are needed to mitigate the worst outcomes of this crisis would go against what Canada is fundamentally, […] so it will mean a pretty seismic shift in who we are as a country,” he said.
“I think small steps can and might be taken, but I don’t think we’ll get anywhere close to what really should be happening in the face of the horrible genocide of Indigenous people and also the existential crisis of climate change.”