OTTAWA — A convoy of angry Albertans and other westerners rolled up to Parliament Hill Tuesday to protest federal energy and environmental policies.
Scores of people gathered in knee-deep snow on the Hill lawn to hear speeches amid concerns the convoy has become a magnet for extremist, anti-immigrant elements.
The United We Roll convoy began in Red Deer, Alta., on Valentine’s Day and made its way east over four days with stops for rallies along the way.
Protesters want the Liberal government to scrap the carbon tax and two bills that overhaul environmental assessments of energy projects and ban oil tankers from the northern coast of British Columbia.
Along the way, despite most organizers’ insistence that their movement is peaceful and intends to unite Canadians behind importance industries, the convoy has been joined at times by people criticizing immigration and calling for the violent overthrow of the government.
One placard on a truck outside Parliament said NO to “UN/globalism, carbon tax, tanker ban, dirty foreign oil, open borders” and YES to “Charge Trudeau with treason, Energy East, yes to pipe lines, look after veterans, photo ID & Canadian citizenship to vote.”
Small business owner Jerry Fetting, who flew in from Stony Plain, Alta., says he has been affected by the drop in oil prices in recent years.
Mark Friesen, a convoy organizer from Saskatoon associated with the so-called yellow-vest movement, said the root of the problem is the United Nations’ sustainable environment agenda. “You cut that head of the snake off, we get pipelines built,” he said.
Friesen insisted his affiliation with the yellow vests is in no way racist or anti-immigrant.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer spoke of his party’s willingness to build pipelines. “It is time Canada has a prime minister that is proud of our energy sector.”
Alberta Conservative MPs Arnold Viersen, Jim Eglinski and Kevin Sorenson, as well as Ontario Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, all spoke in support of the energy industry.
People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier told the crowd that “you’re just asking that this country will be able to build pipelines.”
The Canadian Press