As hundreds of Albertans gathered in downtown Calgary on Thursday to protest the arrival of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, photos began to surface of two protesters in particular.
One of the demonstrators was wearing a hoodie depicting a noose in a tree with the words “Come West Trudeau” printed across the chest.
The sweatshirt is made by a company called Low Class Oil Trash, a small pro-oil industry clothing brand and the brainchild of Caitlin Lindsay, whose husband works in the oilfield.
“I was just incredibly struck by the hypocrisy of how oil and gas workers are treated here,” Lindsay said.
The clothing brand has been online for about a year. According to its website, the company believes in the oilfield, the power of oil, supporting Albertan suppliers and the oil trash lifestyle.
“Most of all, we believe this: f*** the liberals and keep makin’ hole,” the websites philosophy section reads.
Although the sweatshirt has been largely condemned on social media, Lindsay said she sees nothing wrong with the depiction.
“It is a sentiment that absolutely resounds with people and I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing our frustration with how we’re treated and how we’re represented,” she said. “I think there’s nothing wrong with wearing that on the front of our shirts.”
The RCMP said they are aware of the shirts.
“While we do not comment on operational matters regarding the prime minister’s security, we can confirm that we are aware of the matter.” RCMP Staff Sgt. Tania Vaughan said in a statement to Global News. “The RCMP takes all threats seriously and has measures in place to address them.”
When asked whether there is any concern her hoodies could possibly incite violence, Lindsay told Global News that kind of concern is ludicrous.
“If somebody wants to hang Trudeau, they’re going to hang Trudeau and it’s going to have nothing to do with us,” she said.
But it raises the question whether statements like the sweatshirts are effecting any change on issues like Alberta’s demand for access to tidewater.
One political commentator said she believes the sweatshirt does little to advance any dialogue.
Williams said she believes there has been a rise over the years in visual animosity toward political leaders similar to the Come West Trudeau hoodie. She said the trend seems to be getting worse due to the anonymity of social media.
The design of the hoodie stems from a hat worn by some angry Albertans in the early 1980s, when then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau created the National Energy Program.
Animosity between many in the province and the Trudeau family has been apparent for years.
“A lot of particularly older Albertans have been expecting Justin Trudeau to be not very good for Alberta’s economy,” Williams said. “Not to say there’s not lots to criticize, but I think there’s a significant difference between Pierre Trudeau and Justin Trudeau.”
The prime minister’s office chose not to comment on the hoodies.