Monday, May 27, 2024

Group calling for national firefighting agency splashes paint on Prime Minister’s Office in Ottawa

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A climate action group that blocked traffic and vandalized property in Ottawa last summer has returned to once again demand the federal government do more to deal with climate change.

Members of Last Generation Canada, previously known as On2Ottawa, splashed pink paint on the Prime Minister’s Office on Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa and blocked the road before being arrested Wednesday morning.

The group has been demanding a national firefighting agency that employs and trains 50,000 firefighters and that Canada implement “legally-binding citizens’ assemblies to tackle the climate and ecological crisis within two years.”

According to a news release from the group, five members were arrested Wednesday morning.

“200,000 Canadians had to evacuate their homes last summer,” said Ben Holt, who sprayed the paint, in the release. “Entire communities were burned to the ground. And yet our government has done nothing to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.”

Ottawa police told CTV News Ottawa that the five protesters were arrested for mischief. Additional charges could be laid.

Ottawa police arrest a protester with the climate action group Last Generation Canada after members splashed pink paint on the Prime Minister’s Office and blocked traffic on Wellington Street on Parliament Hill. Feb. 7, 2024. (CTV News)

This is the second time members from this group splashed paint on the Prime Minister’s Office. Last year, the group also blocked numerous streets and bridges in Ottawa, spread paint over a painting at the National Gallery of Canada, and interrupted the Juno Awards.

Avril Lavigne confronts a topless protester as she presents during the Junos Monday, March 13, 2023 (The Canadian Press/Timothy Matwey).

On Tuesday, the group set a stroller on fire on Parliament Hill as part of a demonstration.

The group ramped up its demands for a national firefighting agency last summer amid a devastating fire season.

Firefighting is under provincial jurisdiction, though the federal government can deploy the military when needed. Last year, some Canadian Armed Forces members were sent to the Northwest Territories to aid in firefighting efforts.

According to the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, there were approximately 126,000 firefighters in Canada in 2022, more than 90,000 of which were volunteers. Only 36,000 across Canada were considered career firefighters.

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