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UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlers' Out of Europe

Demonstrators arrested following interruption of PM Stephen Harper's speech before Parliament

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

Greeting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he arrived at the UK's Parliament Thursday morning was a barrage of environmental activists who came to declare that "dirty tar sands fuels have no place in the UK or Europe."

Protesters with the UK Tar Sands Network rallied outside of Parliament Thursday against the presence of Canadian PM Stephen Harper. (Photo: @JHAtheron/ Twitter) Three environmental activists scaled the roof of the House of Lords and managed to interrupt Harper's speech to Parliament before being arrested for attempting to enter "non public rooms," the BBC reports.

In a series of videos posted online, "Love Canada, Hate Tar Sands" protesters filmed themselves on the roof preparing for the disruption.

"We have entered Parliament to interrupt Harper’s speech. We have managed to climb onto the roof with t-shirts saying ‘oil out of politics’, ‘stop Harper’ and ‘stop the tar sands’. Two campaigners have spilled molasses on the floor outside of Parliament," the group wrote on their site.

They continue:

From further marginalizing historically shunted Indigenous people, to muzzling world class climate scientists, Prime Minister Harper has shown time and again that nothing will stand between him and developing dirty tar sands, even though tar sands will create unprecedented global warming.

Now Harper brings his circus of oil peddlars to Europe to interfere in EU climate legislation, to push his monstrous industry onto Europeans.

Cameron’s government opens its arms to Harper and his cronies, bestowing upon them the great honour of addressing Parliament.

Instead of being honored, Harper should be shamed internationally but he is instead invited to address both Houses of Parliament. Harper has taken Canada down a dangerous climate path, destroying whole ecosystems and overriding centuries-old treaty rights. Now is now trying to stain Europe too.

We will not let this go unchallenged.

On the ground level, roughly 50 demonstrators with the UK Tar Sands Network rallied in the Commons outside of Parliament carrying signs that read "Stop Harper" and "Tar Sands Kills."

According to a statement issued by the group, Harper has come to London "partly with the aim of lobbying against a piece of EU climate legislation (the Fuel Quality Directive) which could label the tar sands as more polluting than conventional oil and discourage its future import, closing off Europe as a desperately-needed potential market."

The protesters have filed the Early Day Motion, to be published Friday, which "criticizes the recent barrage of lobbying from Canada and the oil industry, particularly UK oil giants Shell and BP," and calls on the UK government to support legislation discouraging future tar sands imports. The legislation is expected to be voted on later this year.

The statement continues: 

On his trip, Harper is also hoping to seal the deal on the controversial Canada-EU free trade agreement (CETA), which could also provide a boost to the tar sands industry, giving oil and gas companies more rights than communities and making it much more difficult for the UK and EU to seriously address climate change in the future. 

"Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest, most polluting fuels out there," declared Caroline Lucas, the Green MP who is tabling the Early Day Motion. "David Cameron must make it clear to the Canadian Prime Minister during his visit to the UK that such dirty fuels have no place in the UK or Europe, and UK Ministers must commit to supporting proposals to label tar sands oil as more carbon intensive than other fuels through the EU Fuel Quality Directive."

"Harper’s government has been trying to foist its dirty product on Europe by spreading misinformation and lobbying against climate legislation that would discourage tar sands imports," said Jess Worth, from UK Tar Sands Network, who added that the UK government "should be ashamed of itself" for bestowing such an honor as is speaking before Parliament "on a man who is scuppering climate action abroad and trampling over Indigenous rights and environmental protection at home."

CBC news reports that, during his speech to Parliament, Harper did in fact touch upon the trade agreement calling it "a historic step — a monumental one, in fact."

Further, he expressed his "deep appreciation" to the government of UK Prime Minister David Cameron for "robust advocacy on behalf of this agreement," saying "It will be a great benefit to all of our citizens."

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