Skip to main content

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley visits Inter Pipeline's Heartland Petrochemical Complex in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., on Jan. 10, 2019.

JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the pro-pipeline movement that has inspired rallies across the province and two truck convoys to Ottawa planned for next month needs to guard against extremism.

Unemployed oil workers and supporters of the industry have been holding rallies and staging convoys of transport trucks to protest the federal and provincial governments' inability to secure new pipeline access for Alberta.

Some of those protesters identify with theyellow vest movement, a loose collection of activists and social media groups whose focus also includes opposition to the federal carbon tax, increased immigration, and broad – and at-times virulent – denunciations of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The yellow vests drew inspiration from protests in France that were initially fuelled by opposition to a carbon tax and have been marred by violence.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Notley said she welcomes groups who have come forward to rally behind the province’s oil sector, but she said extremists can’t be allowed to poison that message.

“I think that many of us agree that in order to deliver that message, we need to be reasonable and stick to the issues and not let these kinds of protests to be taken over by people with more extreme views," she told reporters Thursday in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

"Because I think that hurts those stand-up, hard-working folks who are just trying to get across to the rest of Canada how much Canada needs us to be doing well.”

Next month, the group Canada Action plans to lead a convoy of oilfield trucks to Ottawa to push for new pipelines. The expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to carry more crude oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast has been stalled since a Federal Court of Appeal decision last year overturned its approval by the federal government.

A competing group calling itself the Yellow Vest Convoy is also planning a trip for around the same time. Canada Action has disavowed any connection to the yellow vest group.

Both have launched online crowdfunding campaigns to finance their respective trips. Canada Action has raised more than $40,000, while the Yellow Vest Convoy has brought in more than $110,000.

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney has also raised concerns that side issues or extremism could overshadow the pro-pipeline message. He has condemned what he described as a handful of people at the pipeline rallies with “kooky ideas” and this last weekend tweeted that “it’s wise to keep the focus on the energy issues.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Kenney was not available for an interview Thursday.

Cody Battershill, a Calgary-based realtor who created Canada Action, said his group has a specific goal and wants to stay focused on that.

"We’ve always been focused on energy, pipelines, resources," he said in an interview.

“We just don’t want to get off topic. We just want to keep it focused on pipelines and getting our families back to work.”

Glen Carritt, the main organizer with the Yellow Vest Convoy, rejected the notion that his members hold extreme views. Mr. Carritt said he’s made it clear that racist or discriminatory views are not welcome, though he said he also won’t limit the group’s messaging to oil and pipelines.

“We’re a peaceful protest to show that we’re discouraged by the current government, and we want to peacefully let our voices known,” said Mr. Carritt, who runs an oilfield safety company and is also a town councillor in Innisfail, north of Calgary.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re not happy with the current government’s decision in a few different areas. There’s got to be change."

The group’s Facebook page, which requires permission to join, is filled with member posts about not just pipelines but also federal environmental policy, a United Nations pact on migration, refugees, and frequent criticism of Mr. Trudeau.

Mr. Carritt said he and other volunteers do their best to vet members and monitor posts.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter