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Six Canadian youth kicked out of Durban climate talks after protest

Six youth were kicked out of the COP17 climate talks in Durban, South Africa today, after a direct action during Canadian Environment Minister Peter Kent's opening address.

As Kent began his speech, members of the Canadian Youth Delegation (CYD) stood and turned away from the minister, revealing t-shirts with the messages: "People Before Polluters" and "Turn Your Back on Canada."

Photo by Malkolm Boothroyd, courtesy of CYD_DJC on Flickr.

According to a release from the CYD, the youth delegates, including "rogue page" and occasional Tyee contributor Brigette DePape, were escorted from the plenary hall at 12:30 p.m. local time. Their accreditation to the conference was also removed.

"It's clear that Canada isn't here negotiating in good faith," CYD media liaison Emilie Novaczek told The Tyee. "As long as they continue to defend the tar sands at these meetings, we will not be able to reach the ambitious, fair and binding agreement the world desperately needs."

This morning, the CBC posted a transcript of Kent's statement in Durban.

"Kyoto, for Canada, is in the past," Kent said. "On the other hand: Canada believes that the Cancun Agreements, adopted at COP 16 and flowing from the Copenhagen Accord, do provide a sound conceptual and practical framework to advance our collective engagement to address climate change."

In a blog posted today, youth delegate Robin Tress called out the Canadian government's participation at the climate talks, and the action taken against the six protestors.

"The CYD continues to be chastised by our government for being 'uninformed and idealistic,' and the six who took action today are being punished by being stripped of their accreditation to the conference," Tress wrote.

"Meanwhile in Canada, our government subsidizes the oil industry, whose products are the root cause of climate change. Our government pushes right wing ideologies through in crime, climate, health care, and economic policies. These ideologies are evident in the way they treat activists, NGOs, and anyone who is generally dissenting of the current majority government. If they are going to reprimand us for being ideological, they should be prepared to accept the same criticism."

The CYD notes that Canada has so far received 12 "Fossil of the Day" awards at the conference.

The talks are slated to end this Friday, Dec. 9.

Robyn Smith reports and edits for The Tyee.

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