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A climate crisis protest also took place in March. Photo: Eric Davison/Fulcrum

Ottawa Centre MPP Joel Harden is calling on the presidents of universities and colleges across the city to cancel a portion of classes on Sept. 27 to give students, faculty and support staff the opportunity to attend a climate crisis protest-strike.

“I realize this may be an unprecedented request from an MPP, but we live in unprecedented times,” Harden wrote in his open letter dated Monday. The letter is addressed to U of O president Jacques Frémont and the presidents of Carleton University, Algonquin College, St. Paul University, La Cité, and Dominican University College.

Harden’s letter asks the presidents to cancel classes next Friday from 11 a.m. until “late afternoon, in order to allow students and faculty to participate in this historic action, as well as support staff where possible.”

Harden notes the cancellations would follow in the footsteps of Montreal’s Concordia University and Gatineau’s Université du Québec en Outaouais.

The protest, inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg and part of the Global Climate Strike, will see people from across the city gather in Confederation Park and head to Parliament Hill for 11:30 a.m., according to the Facebook event. 

The Global Climate Strike is seeking action “to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart,” according to its website. 

United Nations experts released a damning 700-page report last October where they found we have just 12 years to make the monumental changes needed to keep global warming below 1.5 C. The report drew together 6,000 scientific publications and was reviewed by over 1,000 scientists.

The protest-strike already has the support of the University of Ottawa Students’ Union, who passed a motion at their Board of Directors meeting this past Sunday to promote the event. The campus community is invited to link up on Tabaret Lawn at 10 a.m. on the day of the protest-strike. 

The Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa is on board as well, and has asked professors “to not penalize students who (wish) to participate in the protest,” the UOSU’s motion reads.

Stay tuned for our coverage of the protest-strike on Sept. 27.