In February I wrote here about the United We Roll Convoy, which was on its way from Alberta to Ottawa. Those involved said their concerns were primarily about the oil and gas industry. However, it soon became clear that the tour was about more than that. At every convoy stop there was also a focus on immigration and refugees, Canadian sovereignty and the role of the United Nations.
Pipelines and borders
Glen Carritt of Innisfail, Alberta, was the self-described "lead liaison" as well as the "face and voice" of the convoy. On their website, Carritt is quoted as saying: "We are in favour of pipelines to move our products in the oil and gas sector to the rest of Canada as well as the rest of the world. We are opposed to the current format of the carbon tax as well as the UN impact on Canadian borders."
What Carritt is referring to specifically are claims that by signing a United Nations protocol on how best to deal with immigration, Canada had sold out its sovereignty and lost control of its borders to potentially dangerous intruders. Among the other claims made at convoy pit stops were that immigrants are an economic drag on the country, and that there are criminals and terrorists to be found among asylum seekers. Those are dubious claims which have little to do with the original protest about building pipelines and opposing a carbon tax.
The question is whether the United We Roll organizers believed those claims and promoted them, or whether the convoy was infiltrated by individuals from the Yellow Vest movement. When people wearing those vests began showing up at rallies with signs opposing immigration and describing Justin Trudeau as a traitor, Carritt appeared to welcome them. He was quoted as saying, "It doesn’t matter, you can wear a yellow vest, or blue coveralls or black hardhat or suit and tie." The United We Roll convoy was originally named the Yellow Vest Convoy, but that name was later changed so there must have been a perceived problem with optics.
The Yellow Vest groups in Canada are copy cats of an anti-elite movement in France against a carbon tax, the cost of living, and much more. For months there have been weekly demonstrations, some of them violent, against French President Emmanuel Macron and the policies of his government. But a movement which was mainly economic in its origins has veered off into an anti-immigrant, anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic direction.
In Canada, Yellow Vest protests have largely been organized through social media sites. In December, 2018 Global TV lifted a description from the Yellow Vest Facebook site. It reads as follows: "This group is to protest the CARBON TAX and the Treason of our country’s politicians who have the audacity to sell out OUR country’s sovereignty over to the Globalist UN and their Tyrannical policies."
In Sault Ste Marie, one of the featured speakers at the United We Roll event was Mark Friesen of Saskatoon, who is identifiably involved with United Yellow Vest Canada. Friesen drew the pipelines-immigration link in the following way: "We're funding foreign aid that isn’t working, but now we have to accept all the migrants in the same countries that we're trying to help . . . We need to back away from the UN and its agenda. If we can do that all the issues that Canadians are dealing with today, energy, pipelines, carbon tax, migrant pact, for example, those go away."
In Sault Ste Marie as well another protestor named Marc Hallert, told a reporter that he backs using violence against [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau. "I hope they rip him right out of Parliament . . . They do it in other countries. They don’t fool around. We got to do that here … We really have to stand up and fight for our rights."
When the convoy reached Ottawa, there followed two days of demonstrations on Parliament Hill. Chris Hansen, one of the protesters, told a CBC reporter, "I think we need to open pipelines and not open borders."
Goldy and Scheer
One of the featured speakers at a Parliament Hill rally was Faith Goldy, whose white supremacist views are so extreme that she was fired from the already-extreme Rebel Media after appearing on a neo-Nazi podcast. Goldy has since been kicked off Facebook for promoting white nationalism. The question arises: Why was someone known for extremist views on race invited to address a rally which was ostensibly about obtaining greater support for the oil and gas industry?
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer also spoke at the Ottawa rally praising the convoy and hammering away at the Liberals. He did not address nor acknowledge the racist and xenophobic comments, and the objectionable signs that had been a part of the convoy’s rallies. Scheer was later chastised for that by the Liberals during question Period in the House of Commons, even as he was attacking them for their role in the SNC Lavalin affair.
This is an election year in Canada, and in Alberta. There are legitimate debates to be had on a whole range of issues, including pipelines, regulatory agencies, carbon taxes, and, yes, the levels and conditions of immigration. But let's dispense with sinister conspiracy theories and the scapegoating of vulnerable people who don't deserve it. And please, let's have no more loose talk about traitors and violence.
Dennis Gruendng is an Ottawa-based author, blogger and a former MP. This article appeared on his Pulpit and Politics blog on April 13, 2019.
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