[Bratt] Alberta truckers didn't speak with one voice but they still drove the message home

[Bratt] Alberta truckers didn’t speak with one voice but they still drove the message home

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Duane Bratt is a political science professor and Chair, Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies, at Mount Royal University in Calgary

[Globe & Mail] After a 3,400-km trek from Red Deer, Alta., the United We Roll truck convoy arrived in Ottawa on Tuesday with nearly 200 semi, flatbed and pick-up trucks. Throughout the multi-day journey, the convoy of protesters attracted media coverage at every stop on the way. This attention meant that no federal politician, from the Prime Minister to the leader of the Official Opposition, could miss the anger emanating from Alberta and other parts of Western Canada over the federal government’s oil and gas policy.

VIDEO: [Global News] Convoy of hundreds of trucks rolls into Ottawa to protest federal oil policies [Feb 19, 2019]

There were four specific anti-oil policies that the convoy was protesting: the delays around the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline and the cancellation of the Northern Gateway Pipeline; Bill C-69, which makes changes to the environmental assessment process for Canada’s resource sector; and Bill C-48, which would ban oil tanker traffic off the northern coast of B.C. Protesters found it hypocritical that tankers delivering foreign oil to refineries in Saint John or Montreal are fine, but tankers delivering Canadian oil to overseas markets would be banned. Finally, the protesters want to repeal the federal carbon tax, which they see as a simple government cash grab.

Why was a convoy to Ottawa so important? Throughout the fall of 2018, there were similar protests throughout Alberta. They attracted politicians and generated lots of media attention in the province, but there was very little discussion outside of it. Since the issues being raised were under federal jurisdiction, organizers realized that it was necessary to generate national awareness. There was also a major historical precedent: In 1935, in the depths of the Great Depression, a thousand unemployed men from the West commandeered freight cars to ride the rails as part of the “On to Ottawa Trek” to protest the handling of government-run relief camps.

Protests on Parliament Hill are common, so the convoy needed to find a way to make itself stand out. There were several ways to do it.

One was the size of the protest. This wasn’t relevant for the oil and gas protesters, because their demonstration was relatively small.

Second was to find a unique issue. There have been annual right-to-life and pro-marijuana demonstrations, but ones that are pro-oil and gas are rare.

This article continues at [Globe & Mail\] How the pipeline convoy was – almost – a perfect demonstration

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