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More than 150 trucks caravan to Ottawa to protest carbon taxes, support pipelines

 A pro-pipeline message adorns a trailer on the United we roll convoy in alberta on feb. 14. photo/starla dawn
A pro-pipeline message adorns a trailer on the United we roll convoy in alberta on feb. 14. photo/starla dawn

A 159-truck convoy left western Canada on Thursday to kick off a four-day, 2,500-mile caravan to the nation’s capital, Ottawa, with a plan to push for more pipelines and less government regulation of the energy industry.

Under the banner United We Roll, the convoy left Red Deer, Alberta on Thursday morning to travel east along the Trans-Canada Highway. The group will protest the country’s carbon tax and other legislation that they say hurt Canada’s energy industry on February 19th and 20th outside Parliament in Ottawa.

“We’re doing this because the government is disconnected,” organizer Glenn Carritt told FreightWaves from a Kenworth fire truck as the convoy passed near Calgary. “We need pipelines into the ground and immediate action.”

Carritt provides fire and medical services to Alberta’s oil and gas industry, which has struggled with low prices and insufficient pipeline capacity issues.

 A truck prepares to leave red deer alberta on feb 14. photo/starla dawn
A truck prepares to leave red deer alberta on feb 14. photo/starla dawn

While the United We Roll Convoy for Canada isn’t affiliated with any political parties, it is taking aim at the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, which faces federal elections in October.

The protest is targeting two pieces of legislation: C-48, a ban on oil tanker traffic on Canada’s West Coast; and C69, which would change how Canada improves industrial projects. The organizers also want the government to abolish an existing federal carbon tax.

“We have enough energy regulation, we’re sending business away,” Carritt said.

While organizers expect to pick up other trucks along the way, the energy issues are largely grounded in western Canada.

United We Roll was originally organized as a Yellow Vest convoy – which drew controversy in part because of its affiliation with French anti-government protests. The Yellow Vest affiliation was dropped to appeal to a broader political spectrum, Carritt said.

Carritt said the group would still welcome Yellow Vest supporters but would shun extremists.

“We are respectful and peaceful. We won’t want radicals and racists coming to this,” Carritt said.

The Greater Ottawa Trucking Association is hosting the convoy and providing logistical support, said Ron Barr, general manager of the association.

“They’re truckers and they’re business people,” said Barr, who is helping the convoy with the complicated logistics of getting the trucks in and out of Ottawa. “I support them, but I want to stay neutral on the protest.”

Bar, who does not support the Trudeau government, said he was staying neutral in part because the convoy’s aims are specific to western Canada.

A GoFundMe campaign had raised C$54,000 as of Thursday to help cover the fuel costs and other expenses of the journey. For trucks making a round trip from western Canada to Ottawa, the fuel cost can run C$6,000, Carritt said.

Nate Tabak

Nate Tabak is a Toronto-based journalist and producer who covers cybersecurity and cross-border trucking and logistics for FreightWaves. He spent seven years reporting stories in the Balkans and Eastern Europe as a reporter, producer and editor based in Kosovo. He previously worked at newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the San Jose Mercury News. He graduated from UC Berkeley, where he studied the history of American policing. Contact Nate at [email protected]