Trudeau met by both applause and hecklers at Montreal climate march
Justin Trudeau was met by a mixture of applause and angry hecklers on Friday as the Liberal leader marched in Montreal with tens of thousands of people, in one of several events across the country demanding greater action on climate change.
Many marchers were there to protest government inaction on environmental issues and they did not spare the Liberal leader, who was confronted several times on his government's decision to buy the Trans Mountain pipeline.
At one point, the crowd that lined the sidewalks of Montreal began chanting ``No pipelines!'' on repeat as the Liberal leader walked by alongside local candidates and his own wife and children.
``Your presence here is hypocritical!'' yelled another man, who followed Trudeau's contingent down the road, yelling at him to cancel the pipeline project as a line of police formed a wall with their bicycles to separate the crowd from the leader.
Soon after arriving at the march, Trudeau's security team dived into the crowd to tackle a man who had been spotted carrying a carton of eggs, who later could be seen struggling on the ground against police.
At other times Trudeau was applauded by the crowd as he walked with his team chanting, ``We're moving forward for the planet!'' in French.
While some members of Trudeau's family appeared unsettled by the scattered protests, they did not appear to faze the Liberal leader, who waved and smiled at the protesters, calling out, ``Thank you for being here!''
To a young man who yelled ``Do something!'', Trudeau smiled and replied: ``I'm going to do lots, thanks for your activism.''
Earlier Friday, Trudeau promised that a re-elected Liberal government would pay to plant two billion trees over the next decade as part of a wider $3-billion effort to use nature to combat climate change.
The promise is the latest plank in Trudeau's plan to protect the environment, which he unveiled in pieces at campaign stops over the past week while defending his government's purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline.
The tree promise follows new research that suggests trees could play a huge role in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide and only a few months after the federal government stepped in to save a tree-planting program from budget cuts in Ontario.
The Liberal leader made the promise after meeting with 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg ahead of the march.
The environment has taken on a significant role in this election, with Trudeau's chances at re-election at least partly resting on his ability to convince progressive voters that his party's plan is better than those of the NDP and Greens.
``Nature isn't just part of our identity as Canadians, it's also a part of the solution to climate change and it's a solution we can start using today,'' Trudeau said as his son Xavier and daughter Ella-Grace stood nearby with supporters and local Liberal candidates.
While Trudeau did not lay out specific details, including exactly how much the tree-planting promise would cost, the Liberals say the trees are in addition to the roughly 600 million that are already planted across Canada each year.
That includes trees already being planted through an Ontario program that the federal Liberal government saved when its funding was cut by Premier Doug Ford's government in April. The Liberals promised $15 million over four years to keep it going.
The role of trees in fighting climate change has been generally understood for some time. But a landmark study by Swiss researchers in June suggested planting trees could be the most effective and cost-efficient way to fight climate change because of their ability to capture and store carbon dioxide, particularly when they are young and growing.
The study, published in the journal Science, also found there is enough space worldwide to plant one trillion trees without affecting existing cities or farmland, and listed Canada among six nations with the space to handle a large share of such efforts.
Some communities have picked up on the importance of planting trees by issuing challenges, including one in Winnipeg where Mayor Brian Bowman called on residents to plant a million trees over the next 20 years.
Victoria last week promised to plant 5,000 trees by the end of 2020 as part of a United Nations challenge.
In addition to the promised trees, Trudeau said the $3-billion investment would be used to expand and diversify urban forests and to work to prevent infestations, such as the emerald ash borer, from devastating Canada's forests.
The plan will also create 3,500 seasonal jobs, Trudeau added, before aiming at federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and Ford, who has become a popular target for the Liberal leader during this election campaign.
``Doug Ford tried to axe tree-planting in Ontario, a shortsighted decision not just for our environment, but for the hundreds of seasonal jobs that it puts at risk,'' Trudeau said.
``Our government put up $15 million to keep that program going because we can't play politics with our kids' future.''
The Liberal leader also attacked Scheer for being the only major-party leader not to participate in a climate march on Friday and accused the Conservatives of refusing to understand, let alone participate, in ``the great fight of our time.''
Yet even as he sought to bolster his own environmental credentials and attack those of the Conservatives with the tree-planting commitment and decision to march in Montreal's climate protest, Trudeau faced criticism over his own environmental record.
``Trees won't hide the pipeline you bought,'' NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted.
Thunberg also told reporters after meeting Trudeau that while she tries not to ``focus so much on individuals,'' she had told the Liberal leader he was ``obviously not doing enough'', an assessment Trudeau said he agreed with.
``I agree with her entirely. We need to do more,'' he said. ``And that's why the ambitious plans we've laid out all week that have been criticized by some as too ambitious, are not too ambitious, are necessary.''