Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday February 21, 2019
Pro-pipeline protestors arrive in Ottawa from Alberta, as political attention remains focused on Quebec
A convoy of oil workers arrived in Ottawa on Tuesday to deliver a message to the Liberal government about the province’s desperate need for more pipelines. Perhaps fittingly, however, the government’s focus was instead trained on Alberta’s deepest political foe: Quebec.
The long line of semi-trucks sat idling on Wellington Street in Ottawa, blocking off the street that passes in front of Parliament as part of a protest by United We Roll, a pro-industry group.
The Ottawa rally marked the final destination for the convoy, which started its journey in Alberta four days ago. Semi trucks were hitched to trailers emblazoned with calls to “build the pipeline” and “kill” Bill C-69, the Liberals’ environmental assessment reforms. Bearded men in fluorescent vests exhaled thick clouds into the cold air and yelled for Ottawa to “open your eyes” to industry struggles.
But, as if drawing directly from Alberta’s deepest political suspicions, MPs were instead focused on Quebec for much of the day, and the ongoing furor over allegations that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured the attorney general to help Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin avoid prosecution on corruption charges. The minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, has quit cabinet and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary has resigned.
Haley Wile, a co-founder of United We Roll, brushed off suggestions that the SNC-Lavalin affair was sucking up political oxygen in Ottawa and distracting media from the rally.
Rally organizers said they plan to ask several cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister’s Office, for meetings to discuss energy policy and Alberta’s pipeline woes. No Liberal MPs attended the rally, though Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and People’s Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier both delivered remarks.
“I didn’t think Justin Trudeau was going to come down and say ‘Let’s get this pipeline built,’” Wile said.
One bright green placard on Tuesday read: “Hey Trudeau, if SNC was in Alberta would you build us a pipeline?” Another read: “Build pipelines, let Jody speak.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the Prime Minister’s Office said it would not meet with organizers of United We Roll.
“We will always support the right of Canadians to be heard, but it is essential that their message not be co-opted by those who spew racist and divisive language,” it said.
Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi on Tuesday said it was “very unfortunate” that the message from the convoy has “drifted from pipelines to issues that are not relevant to the discussion on pipelines.” (Source: National Post)