Pedalling to Parliament

Canada’s very first cross-country climate relay rolled onto Parliament Hill on September 15. Pedal for the Planet riders hit the Hill after riding across British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Québec and Atlantic Canada.

Congratulations to all the riders and organizers! People cycled thousands of kilometres across Canada, braving bears and blackflies, and torrential rains on windswept roads. Others spent hours on the phone, working to bridge the vast distances of a continent. Without everyone’s hard work, Pedal for the Planet would not have been possible.

The riders arrived in Ottawa, relaying a message from Canadians across the country: we need to stop Canada’s backpeddling on climate change, and take urgent action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Canada must do its fair share.

We relayed our message to Parliament, with banners signed by people across the country. We were joined by a number of Members of Parliament. New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton rode up to the Hill with his bicycle. Bernard Bigras addressed the crowd, representing the Bloc Québécois. Francis Scarpaleggia spoke on behalf of the Liberals.

We then heard some inspiring words from the riders – Malkolm Boothroyd, who cycled all the way from Whitehorse, and Martina Nowak, who cycled from Victoria. Nathalie Houle and Eugénie Capel spoke on behalf of the many cyclists who crossed Québec, all the way from Cabano to Gatineau.

After the rally, a ride around Ottawa. Cyclists joined a virtual world tour, a low-carbon journey to search for clues for Canada’s missing climate action plan. We were welcomed by Wim Geerts, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Canada, and his staff outside the embassy. He talked about how the Netherlands encourages cycling as a sustainable form of transportation.

We also rode to Bangladesh and Tuvalu, countries that are vulnerable to rises in sea level, and Costa Rica, a country with a plan to go carbon neutral by the year 2021. We visited the European Union, which is encouraging the use of renewable energy to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

We finished our ride outside the Embassy of Denmark. Deputy Head of Mission Jakob Henningsen talked about the importance of the upcoming climate talks in Copenhagen, and how sustainable transportation is encouraged in his country. In Copenhagen, almost half of trips to work or school are made by bicycle.

What is Canada doing? We hope these examples will inspire Members of Parliament to create a climate action plan for Canada. They can start by supporting the swift passage of Bill C-311, the Copenhagen Climate Bill introduced by Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North.

The following night, Pedal for the Planet riders and Members of Parliament returned to the Hill for a special screening of The Age of Stupid. The film looks at the reckless consumption of our age, and presents a clear warning. Without action now, future generations will be threatened by increasing temperatures, extreme weather events, droughts, famines and rising sea levels. The September 16th screening was presented by Linda Duncan, MP for Edmonton-Strathcona and Sierra Club Canada.


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