Published on
Common Dreams

Activists Target Conference Giving Platform to Fossil Fuel Cheerleaders

We need to reframe the debate to talk about how to move beyond toxic extraction, says spokesperson

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Protesters dropped this banner during their action on Friday. (Photo via Twitter: LockOutPetrocultures/ @LockoutPetroC)

Roughly 30 people entered a McGill University building in Montreal Friday morning with a powerful goal—to highlight the flawed approach to debate on fossil fuel extraction that marginalizes those most affected by the toxic process and fails to address how the world moves beyond a paradigm of perpetual growth.

The target of the group's occupation was a conference entitled Petrocultures 2014: Oil, Energy, and Canada’s Future. In a blog post, the group explains that

The framework of this conference positions support for fossil fuel extraction as one valid opinion among others, reducing massive environmental destruction, widespread death and disease, and the continued advancement of Canada’s colonial project to intellectual concerns, to be balanced against the promise of cheap energy and growth in profits. No matter their personal convictions, participants in such debate legitimate the pro-tar sands, pro-fracking, colonialist position by granting its defenders a speaking platform and a considered response.

At around 7:45, just over an hour before the conference was set to open, the protesters entered the building. Their first goal, spokesperson Mona Luxion told Common Dreams, was to prevent, or at least make it more difficult, for the event to take place. Already, Luxion said, they achieved a small victory because their action forced the event to move to another building.

Their second goal, Luxion said, was "to raise visibility not only at this conference but around the national debate over fossil fuel extraction."

The framework of reporting everywhere takes the "position that we should be engaging in fossil fuel extraction... that we should keep on mining the tar sands, that we should keep fracking, all of which are toxic processes," she said.


Never Miss a Beat.

Get our best delivered to your inbox.

"We don't get to have a debate about how we create an economy in which we don't rely on fossil fuels," she added, so the action on Friday was to critique not only this conference, which gives a platform to advocates of continued extraction, but also to critique the way the debate happens nationally and internationally.

We need to look at "who is present in the conversation," Luxion said, and include in the debate the people faced with "the immediate danger of resource extraction...rather than those voices being marginalized."

"We really need to talk about how to not continue an economy based on perpetual growth with limitless resources. We need to look at the system as a whole."

* * *

Twitter users present at the action kept track of the action using the hashtag #LockoutPetroCultures, which you can see below:


This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Share This Article