​Online confusion about convoys to Ottawa reveals different organizer priorities

Canada Action founder Cody Battershill at one of the rallies the group organized in 2018, outside Liberal MP Kent Hehr's office in downtown Calgary in February. Image: Deborah Jaremko/JWN

The plan is gaining momentum to run a truck convoy from Western Canada to Ottawa to bring national attention to the crisis in the oil and gas industry, but there’s some confusion online about who is running the show and where to direct fundraising dollars.

That’s because there are two different convoys being organized for the same week in February.

One is affiliated with Yellow Vests Canada, and the other is by a coalition of grassroots resource advocacy groups led by Canada Action and Rally 4 Resources.

While Yellow Vests Canada is a recent phenomenon taking inspiration from protests in France, which have turned violent and are associated with radical groups, Canada Action and Rally 4 Resources have been working on Canadian oil and gas issues for years.

Their work gained significant momentum in 2018, together organizing more than 30 rallies across the country to support development and challenge government policies that threaten the sector.

They are in no way connected to the Yellow Vest convoy, Canada Action founder Cody Battershill told JWN.

Yellow vest convoy spokeswoman Jenna Bain said they have reached out to Canada Action/Rally 4 Resources, but the group has refused to work together.

The confusion about who's who was evident last week when former Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall corrected a tweet he posted on Thursday morning linking to a Yellow Vest convoy GoFundMe page with another a few hours later that said: “Here’s the right one. Fundraiser by Rally 4 Resources: Official Resource Convoy to Ottawa 2019.”

Part of the confusion may be because the Yellow Vest group launched two GoFundMe pages for their convoy in December, while Canada Action/Rally 4 Resources waited to launch theirs until the first week of January.

Bain told JWN that the Yellow Vest group’s number one priority is that “Justin Trudeau must go,” followed by “pro-pipeline” at number two.

The group believes the federal government is putting its citizens in danger, she said.

“Our government works for us, not the other way around. Trudeau has gotten away with avoiding the hard questions and not being accountable while twisting his words to fool us for too long,” Bain wrote in an email.

On the other hand, Canada Action/Rally 4 Resources is adamant about being non-partisan and singularly focused on resolving the challenges facing the oil and gas sector.

Its GoFundMe convoy page lists specific actions for the federal government.

"We need pipelines to tidewater and market access for our product. We need the government to cancel Bill C48 (tanker ban) and make the necessary changes to Bill C69," it says.

While Canada Action and Rally 4 Resources “take issue with bad policies put forward by Justin Trudeau’s government,” they do not favour any political party.

“We’ve been doing this for a long time, and it’s very important that people understand this conversation is about the fact that we’re all Canadian; we all win when the resource sector is strong,” Battershill said.

“It needs to be an inclusive message of mutual benefit that reaches all Canadians regardless of who they vote for, and that’s why we have to stay positive, respectful, fact-driven and non-partisan.”

Battershill said the worst thing that could happen would be for the huge logistical and financial effort of a truck convoy to Ottawa to, in the end, miss its mark.

“People are upset. It’s a tough time right now, and people want to get involved,” he said.

“We’re going to do a convoy, other people want to do convoy too; it is what it is. We just need to make sure that the message that’s being sent around supporting the energy sector is not lost in conversations around other issues. That is what would be the biggest travesty. Let’s just focus on getting back to work and building support for the resource sector; we don’t need to make this about other issues that aren’t positive.”

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