Hundreds of Alberta truckers are driving a convoy to Ottawa next month from a mustering-point in Red Deer to protest government inaction on pipelines.
Organizer Glen Carritt, of Innisfail, can’t put a number yet on how many vehicles will join the four-day convoy rolling out on Feb. 15 along the Trans-Canada Highway to the nation’s capital. But he believes it could tip 1,000.
Several hundred truckers have already joined up on the group’s Facebook page (Yellow Vest Official Convoy to Ottawa) and Carritt expects smaller vehicles such as pickups and cars will extend the line.
The convoy from Alberta, pushing for the Trans Mountain Pipeline, is planning to meet up on Parliament Hill with another convoy from Atlantic Canada, lobbying for the Energy East Pipeline, says Carritt.
He expects plenty of support from across the country, including Ontario and Quebec — the home provinces of many of Alberta’s oilfield workers.
“The bottom line in Alberta, as in the rest of Canada, is that we’re tired of government procrastination,” says Carritt.
Although the federal government purchased the Trans Mountain Pipeline to ensure it goes forward, despite opposition from British Columbia, the Federal Court of Appeal ruling brought the project to a standstill last August.
Among the court’s rulings is that insufficient consultation was done with Aboriginal groups regarding the effects of additional shipping traffic along the West Coast. Since this is a Constitutional matter, experts conclude the only options for the federal government are to rectify the lapse, or appeal to the Supreme Court.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is re-doing environmental consultations, which are expected to wrap up this spring.
Meanwhile, many local families and oilfield companies are suffering, amid forecasts for continued slow growth in 2019. Carritt believes the government is moving too slowly to open up foreign markets for Canadian oil.
“They are not listening to the Alberta rallies. The only way they will listen is if we show up on their doorstep.”
He admits it’s no accident the convoy is leaving Red Deer on Feb. 15 — the day the 2019 Canada Winter Games kick off in this host city. Carritt expects to get a lot of national media attention.
The movement is already gathering a lot of financial support. People have so far donated $64,000 to a GoFundMe page towards gas and other expenses the truckers will incur.
Carritt, who works for an Innisfail oilfield safety company, is also an Innisfail town councillor. But he says his activist work with the Yellow Vest Convoy, and his opinions, are strictly his own.
There are different Yellow Vest groups across the globe, including France, where protesters against a fuel tax hike wore yellow vests during a recent clash with police. Many of the groups are against higher taxes and illegal migration.
Carritt says his non-politically affiliated Yellow Vest group is strictly sponsoring a convoy to Ottawa. Its Facebook site states intolerance against immigrants, races, religions, sexual orientations, genders and cultures will not be tolerated.
“There’s so much hate expressed on some sites, we are trying to make a bit of a distinction from other Yellow Vests,” he adds.
Carritt is still working out details of where the mustering point will be with city officials. Anyone interested in registering can join the group’s Facebook page.