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Canadians raise climate awareness at country-wide rallies Add to ...

Environmental activists across Canada sang carols, waved signs, and even stripped down to their underwear Saturday as part of a global day of action to raise awareness about climate change.

Canadians joined protesters from around the globe as UN climate talks continued in the Danish capital of Copenhagen.

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Perhaps the most eye-opening Canadian demonstration was in Vancouver, where half a dozen Greenpeace members walked around the city dressed in nothing but their underwear and protest placards.

Andrea MacDonald - her skin covered in goose bumps - said she didn't mind the cold.

She said their flash-mob strip at a city transit station generated a lot of positive attention for climate change.

"Because it draws lots of attention and it shows our commitment that we'd be willing to take off our clothes in a Vancouver winter," Ms. MacDonald said.

"This issue really, really matters to us."

At Vancouver's main public library, several dozen people stood in line to sign a petition for world leaders in Copenhagen, demanding a fair, ambitious and binding climate change agreement.

Sean Devlin, the B.C. organizer with Climate Action Network Canada, said Canadians want Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who is attending the talks, to recognize that the world is actually a small place.

"So when Stephen Harper says that we need to wait for other countries to reduce their emissions, that completely goes against the most basic value that we hold in this country," Mr. Devlin said.

He added that if Canada reduced its emissions, others would follow.

Protesters in Toronto sang "carols for Copenhagen" as they embarked on a candle-lit march Saturday evening from the University of Toronto to the nearby provincial legislature.

Bullhorn in hand, a parka-clad Katelynn Blascik led the marchers through songs like Climate Change is Coming to Town and The 12 Days of Copenhagen as they trekked to Queen's Park for a candlelight vigil.

The 22-year-old delivered a harsh assessment on Canada's environmental image on the world stage.

"Right now, it's abominable. We're known as the petrol state, the new big bad guy," she said before the march.

"And the only thing that can really change that is the Canadian government's commitment to making (emissions) cuts and clean up the tar sands in Alberta."

Earlier in the day, the approximately 250 people who turned out for Toronto's rally got a first-hand glimpse of the scene in Copenhagen, as organizers beamed images of activists protesting at the summit directly into the university's earth sciences building.

People left pointed messages for Harper on a series of billboards, encouraging the Prime Minister to "get his head out of the tar sands" and to "go green or don't come back."

"I think Canada's reputation worldwide is being tarnished, because they're consistently choosing to prioritize the interests of a few corporations over the long term survival of our planet," said Jessica Bell, another member of Climate Action Network Canada.

In a news release, the group said more than 300 events took place Saturday across Canada.

Quebec environmental groups brought Santa Claus to Montreal to underscore the impact of climate change on Canada's Arctic.

In a downtown public square, surrounded by polar bear mascots and signs calling on Ottawa to take action, a protester dressed at Saint Nick mimicked bailing out his sinking North Pole village.

"Today we're trying to save Santa Claus," said Melissa Filion, interim director for Greenpeace Quebec.

She said if Canada doesn't commit to an agreement at Copenhagen that is binding, ambitious and fair, Santa Claus may end up a climate refugee.

"The position of Canada right now is very shameful," she said.

Many in the 200-strong crowd carried signs denouncing Mr. Harper for not seeking stronger cuts to greenhouse gases.

In fact, there's a division between the reduction targets the activists want and what Harper is bringing to the climate talks, something Quebec filmmaker Hugo Latulippe highlighted as he spoke to the demonstrators.

"The people of Montreal, the people of Quebec, we stand by the people of this planet in solidarity," he told the cheering crowd.

"We do not subscribe to the position of the government of Canada on climate change. We will fight this position. We will work towards a carbon neutral economy. We will work towards Copenhagen and beyond."

Environmentalists in Fredericton also sang songs and carried signs as they marched in the freezing cold through the city's downtown.

Julie Michaud of the New Brunswick Conservation Council said time is running out.

"We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in a very serious way in Canada," she told CTV News.

"We're trying to get that message across to citizens who can take individual actions in their own lives to reduce their own ecological footprint. But more importantly, we're trying to get this message across to our decision makers."

In Halifax, where a candlelight vigil was held in a city church, university student Marylynn Cote said it's important that young people become involved in the fight.

"We're the ones who are going to be inheriting the Earth, so to speak," she said.

"We need to step up and take leadership like the ones before us didn't."

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