Pro-pipeline protest convoy arrives in Ottawa after rolling across country

truckers
Stock photo used for representational purposes only.
Editor's Note

This story was updated with additional Canadian Press files from the rally Tuesday.

A convoy of angry Albertans and other westerners rolled into Ottawa Tuesday for a mass protest against federal energy and environmental policies that has also 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.

"The core message is we need immediate action for our pipelines to get in the ground, to get to tidewater and to the rest of Canada," said lead organizer Glen Carritt, the owner of an oilfield fire and safety company in Innisfail, Alta., before the convoy arrived.

The 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.

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.”

Carritt said participants also are unhappy about the government's recently signing a non-binding United Nations compact on global migration.

Carritt said Canada's borders "need to be controlled" by Canada and its citizens, not the United Nations.

Another convoy was originally created by a group that called itself Canada Action, which cancelled the plan and refunded thousands of dollars in donations after that effort became associated with extremist elements in the Yellow Vests Canada movement.

Carritt originally referred to his convoy as a "yellow vest convoy" but renamed it United We Roll after it too was linked to people spewing hateful rhetoric against Muslims and immigrants.

"After much consideration we have decided to make this convoy about being inclusive and supporting Canadians first and foremost," Carritt wrote on the protest's GoFundMe page in late January. "Our new name is United We Roll! Convoy For Canada!"

Some trucks in the convoy display the signature yellow vest garment on their front grilles but Carritt stresses the rally is open to anyone fed up with the federal government as long as they aren't violent.

"Everybody's involved," said Carritt. "It doesn't matter – you can wear a yellow vest, or blue coveralls or black hardhat or suit and tie. Everybody that's peaceful is welcome."

Jason Corbeil, another organizer, renounced any association with a Sault. Ste. Marie, Ont., yellow vest group that had claimed online to be part of the convoy. The blog of one of those organizers includes calls for specific politicians to be executed, refers to immigrants as "sub-human" and argues women don't belong in politics.

Corbeil said the convoy does not condone hate and is about uniting people.

Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, however, is warning that the convoy is giving a platform for hate.

"This convoy is a Yellow Vests Canada convoy and any well-meaning pro-pipeline individuals involved are in fact legitimizing and breathing oxygen into the broader Yellow Vests Canada movement, which spreads hate, conspiracy theories, and death threats targeting Muslims, politicians, and other Canadians," he said.