Five days after renowned environmental activist David Suzuki told CHEK News in an interview that pipelines are going to be “blown up” if leaders don’t pay attention, Suzuki has issued an apology.
“The remarks I made were poorly chosen and I should not have said them,” Suzuki said in a statement on the David Suzuki Foundation website. “Any suggestion that violence is inevitable is wrong and will not lead us to a desperately-needed solution to the climate crisis. My words were spoken out of extreme frustration and I apologize.”
Suzuki made the pipeline remark at an Extinction Rebellion protest in downtown Victoria on Nov. 20, called Funeral for the Future. The event in Victoria saw hundreds march from Centennial Square to the B.C. Legislature, pleading with governments to do something about the ongoing climate emergency.
“We’re in deep, deep doo doo. And the leading experts have been telling us for over 40 years. This is what we’ve come to,” Suzuki told CHEK News in an interview on Saturday afternoon. “The next stage after this, there are going to be pipelines blown up if our leaders don’t pay attention to what’s going on.”
His remarks set off a firestorm on social media, with many expressing concern that the prominent Canadian’s comments could incite acts of violence. They even prompted a response from B.C.’s public safety minister on Monday, who said the statement was not “helpful at all.”
Suzuki clarified his comments in a follow-up interview with CHEK News on Monday, saying it was “absurd” people thought he was inciting violence.
“We’ve come to a time where civil disobedience is what we have to do now — to put our bodies on the line — because if we don’t do this, then I fear what the next stage will be, which will be people will start to blow up pipelines,” he said on Monday, adding that he did not regret what he said.
The remarks also caught the attention of Alberta’s UCP government, which not only demanded an apology from Suzuki but moved a motion to formally condemn him.
On Thursday, Suzuki backtracked, apologizing for his comments.
“We must find a way to stop the environmental damage we are doing to the planet and we must do so in a non-violent manner,” he said in his apology.