Environmentalist David Suzuki has issued an apology after saying “there are going to be pipelines blown up” if government leaders neglect to take action on climate change.
Suzuki made the comments during an interview with CHEK News on Saturday, amid a protest in Victoria that was organized by the environmental group Extinction Rebellion.
“We’re in deep, deep doo doo,” Suzuki is quoted as saying at the time.
“And the leading experts have been telling us for over 40 years. This is what we’ve come to. The next stage after this, there are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.”
The environmentalist issued an apology through his foundation on Thursday, and said he had spoken out of extreme frustration.
“The remarks I made were poorly chosen and I should not have said them,” the statement said.
“Any suggestion that violence is inevitable is wrong and will not lead us to a desperately needed solution to the climate crisis. My words were spoken out of extreme frustration and I apologize.”
Remarks prompted condemnation from Alberta
Suzuki’s remarks prompted swift condemnation from the Alberta government, including Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Energy Minister Sonya Savage and government House Leader Jason Nixon.
Kenney first accused Suzuki of inciting violence Monday on Twitter, and later, at a press conference on Tuesday, when he reiterated that he believed Suzuki was implicitly inciting people to commit eco-terrorism.
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>
“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,” Kenney said.
He added that Suzuki has a track record of outrageous comments that should have had him “cancelled.”
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.”
WATCH | Premier defends Twitter comments:
The premier also criticized the CBC and other organizations for giving Suzuki a platform.
A formal condemnation of Suzuki’s comments was moved in the Alberta Legislature on Tuesday.
Members of Alberta’s Official Opposition spoke out against Suzuki’s remarks as well.
Kathleen Ganley, the NDP representative for Calgary-Mountain View, said both sides of the house can agree that “violence or incitement of violence to make any point” should be condemned.
“That in no way negates the duty of every government in this country to engage in good faith negotiations with Indigenous people and to engage in good faith negotiations and conversations with very real concerns about both Indigenous rights and climate change.”
‘Our leaders are not listening’
Before issuing his Thursday apology, Suzuki previously 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.