Ottawa – The second day of protest on Parliament Hill was a much more staid affair on Feb. 20, compared to the much more noisy Day 1 on Feb. 19.
The semis, bus, pickups and cars again lined Wellington Street. They let out their air horn blasts. Several speakers took to the microphones. But this day, only one politician spoke, Lethbridge Conservative MP Rachael Harder. Most of the TV cameras were gone, and it was mostly convoy participants speaking to themselves. The number of live feeds on social media dropped substantially, as did the number of people watching.
There were no screaming counter-protesters line up against a wall of police, whose yells where drowned out by repeated air horn blasts.
It was an anticlimax to the energy of the day before.
Glen Carritt, whose industrial fire truck was featured under almost every headline about the convoy for the past week, took the microphone. He had led the convoy halfway across the country.
“We’ve been through some ups and downs and sideways,” he said. That statement could be taken literally, as on this day their podium, and the convoy participants, were on the dry sidewalk. The first day on Parliament Hill they were forced to stand on the lawn in the knee-deep snow a few metres to the right, instead of the empty sidewalks which were lined with barricade fences.
Using a sports analogy, Carritt said, “When you get the puck, you get hit. We got the puck.”
Carritt said he was a peaceful, hardworking Albertan. With regards to the controversy regarding yellow vest involvement, he picked up and put on a red high visibility striped jacket that was hanging on the podium, as well as a red hardhat. He said, “Red jacket — same guy.”
Then he took off the jacket and hardhat, and donned a yellow vest. “Yellow vest,” he said. “Guess what? Same guy!”
Carritt said rallies had been held in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, but what really needed to happen was to bring trucks to Parliament Hill. And the big rigs of the convoy were parked right under the Prime Minister’s office, blaring their horns.
He spoke of the journey across the country, with a core of 60 to 80 trucks after starting out with 159. He knew many would only go part way. “We never knew for sure,” he said of their numbers.
“Once we hit the Ontario border, we were completely overwhelmed,” Carritt said. He pointed out Canadians had common interests.
“It was fantastic to see the support.
“We had an extra 14 hours of travel because we wanted to stop and support these people,” he said of all the communities along the way where people came out and lined the road.
“We pulled onto Parliament Hill, and we had a lot of watery eyes,” he said.
“We’ve reached out to all of Canada. The whole country has become united with this convoy. We’re making history here. We’re going to keep making noise until we get change,” he said.
Carritt also addressed an open question that has been floating around on social media — in particular, what will happen with the Go Fund Me money that was donated to support the convoy? By Feb. 20, one campaign for the United We Roll! convoy had raised $138,000. Pipeline News had been told two weeks previously that Carritt also had, at that point, control of most of the money from the original Yellow Vest convoy, which had raised $93,000.
With regards to this, Carritt told the crowd, “The money will get dispersed. Every person will be taken care of, no matter what.”
He pointed out that when they left, the one campaign had $30,000, which was only enough to cover the expenses for a few big rigs. He also said it takes time for the money to be released from Go Fund Me.
While initial plans were for the convoy to disperse from Ottawa, with each participant on their own coming back, Carritt indicated they would be travelling back together, and thanking the towns that supported them.
Pat King said, “Mr. Trudeau, I’m here, and in my pocket I have a pink slip, the same one I got when I was laid off in November.”
“When I got laid off, I don’t know what kind of stress you have ever experienced, but if anybody here had family, when you get laid off in November, and Christmas is coming, and you can’t buy your kid a Christmas present, it starts to become very emotional at that point,” King said.
“These people in these offices work for you. Make them accountable,” he added. “I’ve had enough. Have you had enough?”
Harder said, “We stand together, united as a country. That’s what this is about, this is about standing together, linking arms from east to west across this incredible nation we call home. This is about developing our energy industry that keeps us alive and gives us a place on the world stage.
“This is about shutting off the taps when we receive oil from places like Venezuela, from places like Saudi Arabia, places that treat their people with horrendous cruelty.
“You want to talk about blood oil? You want to talk about cruelty to the environment? You want to talk about irresponsibility in the oil industry? Look no further than the countries we’re receiving oil and gas from.”
She went on, “Meanwhile, we have women and men in our own country, many of you here today, who are without a job, because we have a prime minister who is refusing to develop this industry, who is putting things in place like Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, shutting down the pipelines, shutting down our industry, and then wanting to further punish Canadians by imposing a federal carbon tax.
“What does that carbon tax do? I’ll tell you exactly what it does. It does absolutely nothing for the environment, and everything for the current Liberal government’s coffers,” Harder said.
Jay Riedel of Estevan read an email from a woman which spoke of the hardship oilfield families have gone through.
Riedel, who organized efforts for southeast Saskatchewan and ongoing Estevan protests, said, “These people are my brothers and sisters. We’re making history. It’s unbelievable.”