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Alberta premier accuses environmentalist David Suzuki of ‘incitement to violence’ over pipeline comment

Alberta’s premier blasted David Suzuki Tuesday for comments the environmentalist recently made about exploding pipelines.
On Saturday, Suzuki told CHEK News in Victoria that, “There are going to be pipelines blowing up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.”

CHEK was covering an Extinction Rebellion protest at the time and reported that Suzuki didn’t elaborate further on that comment.

“It’s absolutely an implicit, or winking, incitement to violence,” Jason Kenney alleged during a Tuesday press conference.

“It’s like in the gangster movies, where they say you know, ‘Nice little pipeline you’ve got there, it’d be a terrible thing if something happened to it.'”

The David Suzuki Foundation Twitter account confirmed the comments on Monday, but had a different interpretation of what he meant.

“We have been in touch with David: he has confirmed that this comment was NOT a direct threat to destroy fossil fuel infrastructure,” the tweet said.

“Instead of prioritizing an immediate transition off the fossil fuels that drive these crises, the B.C. government is digging into an expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, including LNG plants and pipelines. David’s comments were a reflection on the increased frustration felt by those who recognize this contradiction, and the conflict that could lie ahead if we aren’t able to address our dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel reliance,” it continued.

‘RISKY, UNHELPFUL AND DANGEROUS’: ALBERTA NDP

Kenney demanded a full retraction and apology from Suzuki.

“It’s time he be held to account in my view,” the premier said.

“I can imagine some over-caffeinated, young, green radical will hear in Saint David’s words a rationalization of future violence.”

During the news conference, Kenney also read some of Suzuki’s past comments concerning immigration and Stephen Harper, and criticized the CBC for continuing to work with him.

Alberta’s NDP opposition also denounced Suzuki’s comments on Tuesday.

“These statements were risky, unhelpful and dangerous. We condemn them,” MLA Irfan Sabir told the legislature.

He said governments must respect Indigenous rights and the right to protest, but citizens must also respect the rule of law and not threaten or commit acts of violence.

EXTINCTION REBELLION STANDING BEHIND COMMENTS

On Monday, Suzuki told the National Post he does not support the bombing of pipelines.

CTV News Edmonton reached out to the David Suzuki Foundation on Tuesday night for his reaction to Kenney’s comments but no one was made available for an interview.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for one of the groups at Saturday’s rally defended what Suzuki said, in an interview with CTV News Edmonton.

“We don’t believe he was inciting violence. He was simply making a sociological prediction that if governments fail to act, then people will get desperate and they will start blowing up pipelines,” said Zain Haq with Extinction Rebellion Canada.

“It’s very clear that people are getting more desperate and there are clear plans of escalation, although they are non violent.”

The UCP introduced a motion in the legislature Wednesday condemning Suzuki’s comments and any threats of destroying energy infrastructure.

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