About 160 semis and pickup trucks left Red Deer early Thursday morning to take a pro-pipeline message to Ottawa.
“We’re feeling pretty excited. We’re happy to get rolling. We’ve got lots of trucks out there lined up and we’ve got a good core of trucks that are going to carry us all the way across the country,” said organizer Glen Carritt, of Innisfail, before the convoy left at 8 a.m. from Edgar Industrial Park.
Carritt said there will be about 100 trucks initially travelling through Alberta, with about 60 going all the way to Ottawa. Trucks will be joining the convoy in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
“We’ve got a good core and we’ve got lots of support all the way along the line. Trucks are going to join us and go city to city, border to border, and carry the message for us.”
He said everybody who is respectful is welcome to join the convoy or attend the rally on Parliament Hill.
Carritt said convoy participants are not happy with the current government and want to see the carbon tax abolished, as well as Bill C-48, which prohibits tankers carrying crude oil from loading or unloading at ports in northern British Columbia, and Bill C-69, which overhauls how energy projects are approved.
“We need to get our pipelines in the ground and we need to get them in immediately, or an action plan as such.
“We’re losing business left, right and centre. It’s just silly that we’re spending $50 million a day on foreign oil. We need to get our product to tidewater,” Carritt said.
Convoy supporter Karl Nielsen said he would be part of the convoy in a heart beat if it wasn’t for cancer treatment he is receiving.
“I’ve been in oil and gas my whole life. We need to get this stuff sold while it’s still worth something. If we can’t sell anything, we’re hooped. We’re done,” said Nielsen, of Red Deer.
He said something big like the convoy needed to happen to get people’s attention.
“This is what we need. When you see the masses of trucks that could be working, it just sickens me. That’s a lot of dollars. People have invested their whole lives in it.
“They’re doing the best they can to make a good living. But when you’re stymied by regulations and rules, you can’t do your job,” Nielsen said.
Dale Haney, of Innisfail, who was waiting in his truck to join the convoy for a short distance, said the protest will help get the word out to the rest of Canada, which also benefits from royalty payments from Alberta.
“Businesses that aren’t necessarily directly involved with the oilfield are learning now that it’s going to eventually affect everybody, every business, right down to the corner grocery store,” Haney said.
Red Deer-Mountain View MP Earl Dreeshen said it’s important that the convoy go across the country to tell people’s stories. He said he was proud it was starting off in Red Deer.
“Red Deer has been so vibrant, whether oil or gas, it’s just been such an important part of the industry and it doesn’t surprise me at all that Red Deerians would be the ones to say let’s move forward,” Dreeshen said.
Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins, who also waved to the convoy as it hit the road, said the Liberal government has devastated the energy sector.
“We know this is true, because the energy sector everywhere else in the world right now is booming. It’s recovered everywhere but here in Western Canada. These folks are mad. They’ve lost their livelihoods. We’ve seen businesses closed down that have been operating for 20, 30, 40 years,” Calkins said.