Environmentalist group invites itself to a Montreal dealership, tries to tow SUVs

Members of the Quebec branch of Extinction Rebellion wrap caution tape around SUVs at a dealership to highlight the ongoing climate crisis in Montreal, Saturday, July 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Half a dozen members of the Ministry of the New Normal (MNN), broke into the Montreal Dodge dealership Saturday morning to tow away some of its vehicles.

Two environmental activists dressed in blue uniforms wrapped yellow police tape around four Jeep Cherokees and Grand Cherokees to "quarantine" them and "precede an immediate recall."

Activists then called a tow truck to pick up the cars, which they called "the most polluting SUVs".

"We need to get rid of these vehicles as soon as possible because they are a public health hazard," said spokesperson Helene Touze. "We think it's really critical to get them off the road when we are in the midst of a climate crisis."

The store's finance director, Marvin Andrade, stepped in before the tow truck driver, who was unaware of the staging, towed the vehicles.

"Everyone has the right to express their opinions," he told the activists, "but to do things like this, I don't think it's the right way to defend your cause."

The demonstrators left the scene peacefully, but left their security cord around the Jeeps.

WHO IS THE 'MINISTRY OF THE NEW NORMAL'?

Touze called the ministry a "theatrical, activist, and comedy group" calling on governments to mobilize against the climate crisis with the same urgency as they did for the coronavirus. 

François Legault's government plans to ban the sale of gasoline vehicles in 2035, a date considered too late by activists.

A special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published in 2018, warns that a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would create 'extreme weather events' and 'droughts', in addition to 'sea level rise' and 'species extinction'.

According to the panel's estimates, if greenhouse gas emissions are not limited, global temperatures reach that point "between 2030 and 2052."

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on July 10, 2021.

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