Rousing calls from Sweden’s Greta Thunberg for action to halt climate change received a chilly reception in Canada’s oil country over the weekend, with vandals defacing a freshly-painted mural of the teen climate activist and counter-protestors demanding that she “shut up” until she had “solutions.”
Local artist AJA Louden painted the mural on a wall near the provincial legislature in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, on Friday. Louden said he wanted to celebrate the celebrity activist’s appearance in Edmonton Friday at a protest in which thousands marched against climate change.
By Sunday, however, the mural had already been defaced. One man, James Bagnell, spray-painted the words “Stop the Lies. This is Oil Country” over the teen’s face in full view of CBC camera crews on the scene.
“This is Alberta. This is oil country. My father has worked in the oil industry. We don’t need foreigners coming in and telling us how to run our business, support our families, put food on our tables,” he told the CBC journalists.
Thunberg’s speech at the rally was described as “gracious” and “articulate” by some observers. She told the crowd that rich countries should do more to reduce their carbon emissions faster. “We’re not doing this because it’s fun or because we have a special interest in the climate or because we want to become politicians when we grow up. We’re doing this because our future is at stake,” she said.
Others at the event were not as welcoming. The protest was met with a counter-protest by oil and gas workers driving big-rig trucks emblazoned with “We Love Canada Energy” signs. Organized by a group called United We Roll, the workers blared their horns to protest what it called foreign activists campaigning against the Canadian oil and gas industry.
Alberta is home to Canada’s vast oil reserves, estimated to be the third-largest in the world.