A climate protester splashed paint on a Tom Thomson piece hanging in the National Gallery of Canada Tuesday as part of escalating activities demanding a national firefighting service.
A member of the group On2Ottawa, which periodically blocked traffic in Ottawa this month, splashed paint on Thomson’s Northern River, which was painted in 1914-15.
The group is demanding the federal government establish a national firefighting agency of 50,000 members to tackle forest fires in Canada. It comes amid an unprecedented wildfire season, which has seen more than 15 million hectares of land burned this year, numerous evacuations, property damage, and smoke-filled skies across North America.
“What’s more important, these pictures of landscapes, these beautiful pictures by a Canadian artist, or the landscape they painted?” said Kaleb Suedfeld, after splashing the pink paint. “How much longer are we going to allow our governments to be beholden to the whims of the fossil fuel industry?”
The actual painting itself is protected by glass and in a news release sent immediately after the incident, On2Ottawa said the pink paint is washable.
The group identifies itself as a “nonviolent civil disobedience campaign focused on the creation of a National Firefighting Agency” and has promised “further disruption in the capital” for another week and a half.
To date, 11 members of the group have been arrested and charged with 34 offences in connection with traffic protests in Ottawa.
–This is a breaking news story. More details to come.