Protest in Ottawa highlights key issues as federal election draws closer
By Greg McGrath-Goudie, News Editor
On February 14th, a convoy of nearly 170 trucks and semi-trucks left Red Deer, Alberta, and drove across Canada. Fluctuating in size until its arrival in Ottawa on February 19th, the convoy gathered near Parliament in protest of the federal government’s policies surrounding oil development.
Operating under the moniker “United We Roll,” the truckers’ protest urged the federal government to scrap the carbon tax, ease restrictions which prevent oil tankers from operating on British Columbia’s northern coast, and facilitate the construction of new oil pipelines.
In an interview with Global News, a small business owner named Jerry Fetting, who traveled with the convoy, cited economic necessity as the basis for the protest:
“We’ve gone from fourteen people down to six people. Those eight people, those eight families are now unemployed. They’re waiting for me to get busy again and it won’t get busy — I’m in the housing market — it won’t get busy till pipelines start getting built and people get back to work.”
The protestors also demonstrated frustration with Bill C-69, which, if passed, would make environmental assessment practices far more stringent. In layman’s terms, the passage of the bill would create additional red tape for the waning oil industry, albeit with environmental protection in mind. The protestors, however, seem keen on economic development and bolstering western Canada’s economy.
That said, the convoy has also been linked with anti-immigration groups. Members of the Yellow Vest Movement accompanied the convoy, a movement which has demonstrated frustration with immigration and Canada’s decision to sign onto the UN’s Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Originally, the protest was named the Yellow Vest Convoy, but it was changed to United We Roll in order to distance its mandate from anti-immigration sentiments, as the protest’s key goal was to assert the importance of natural resource development for Canada’s economy.
The United We Roll protest falls in line with other retaliatory actions taken against the federal government’s environmental mandate. The Ontario PCs, for example, opted to scrap the cap-and-trade system, even in light of the federal government’s requirement for provinces to adopt a carbon taxing system by 2019, in order to avoid having one federally imposed.
Andrew Scheer, leader of the federal PCs, has similarly voiced disdain for signing onto the UN’s global migration compact, even though the agreement is not legally binding.
The protest that occurred in Ottawa indicates an escalating disapproval of the federal government’s policies surrounding immigration and environmental regulation, and it demonstrates an increasing polarity between the federal government’s mandate and the rest of the nation.
At the protest, Tory senator David Tkachuk stated, “I know you’ve rolled all the way here, and I’m going to ask you one more thing: I want you to roll over every Liberal left in the country.”