Environmentalist David Suzuki has apologized for saying pipelines would be “blown up” if government leaders do not intervene in climate change.
Suzuki made the comments during an interview with CHEK News on Saturday, amid a protest in Victoria organized by the environmental group Extinction Rebellion.
“We are in deep, deep doo-doo,” Suzuki said at the time.
“And the leading experts have been telling us that for over 40 years. That’s what we’ve got to. The next phase after this, pipelines will be blown up if our leaders are not aware of what’s going on.”
The environmentalist issued an apology through his fund on Thursday, saying he had spoken out of extreme frustration.
“The remarks I made were poorly selected and I should not have said them,” the statement said.
“Any hint that violence is inevitable is wrong and will not lead us to a desperately needed solution to the climate crisis. My words were said out of extreme frustration and I apologize.”
Condemnation in Alberta
Suzuki’s remarks led to swift condemnation from Alberta’s government, including Prime Minister Jason Kenney, Energy Minister Sonya Savage and Prime Minister Jason Nixon.
Kenney first accused Suzuki of inciting violence on Monday on Twitter, and later at a press conference on Tuesday, when he reiterated that he believed Suzuki implicitly encouraged people to commit eco-terrorism.
“It’s like in the gangster movies where they say, ‘You know, a nice little pipeline you have there. It would be a terrible thing if something happened to it.’ It’s completely irresponsible,” Kenney said.
He added that Suzuki has a track record of outrageous comments that should have gotten him “canceled”.
WATCH | Suzuki’s remarks ‘irresponsible’, says Kenney:
He cited a 2016 example in which Suzuki believed former Prime Minister Stephen Harper should serve time in prison for “conscious blindness” to climate change, which was reported by National Post at the time.
“We resolve disputes 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 anything happens to those pipelines.’ This is outrageous and should be called as such. “
The Prime Minister also criticized the CBC and other organizations for giving Suzuki a platform.
A formal condemnation of Suzuki’s comments was moved in Alberta’s Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
Members of Alberta’s official opposition also spoke out against Suzuki’s remarks.
Kathleen Ganley, the NDP representative for Calgary-Mountain View, said both sides of the House can agree that “violence or incitement to violence to do something about something” should be condemned.
This incitement to violence by David Suzuki is dangerous and should be universally condemned.
In Canada, we resolve our disagreements peacefully and democratically, not with threats of terrorism or violence.https://t.co/6qFXmgvOam
Before issuing his apology, Suzuki told CBC News that he does not tolerate blasting of pipelines. But he suggested he fears it could happen if groups get tired of passivity.
“Our leaders are not listening to the urgency required to address the issue of climate change. And I was concerned that this is just the next step – if it continues – for people blasting pipelines into the air,” he said.
Many climate-related protests have been examples of “peaceful civil disobedience,” Suzuki said, suggesting the violence comes from the government and the RCMP.
“If you look at the people at Fairy Creek, what are they doing then? They are fighting to protect Mother Earth, and the violence is all coming from the forces that want to maintain the status quo,” Suzuki said, referring to protests against deforestation on Vancouver Island which has lasted for more than a year.