A Halifax rally that was meant to show support for the yellow vest protests in France unexpectedly turned into a conversation about immigration on Saturday.
The rally outside City Hall was originally meant to focus on the United Nations Pact and the federal carbon tax. But that focus shifted after two local activists confronted the demonstrators on what they say was anti-immigration and anti-multiculturalism rhetoric on the event’s Facebook page.
Rana Zaman, one of the local social activists who confronted the protesters, felt as though Saturday’s yellow vest rally was an opportunity to bring two political sides together.
“Canada, its people have had enough as well,” Zaman said. “We are swimming in poverty. We are just dying in so many different ways here, so we need solidarity.”
“If there was a movement that could bring all of us together with our diversity, then this was something that was hopeful.”
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The yellow vest demonstrations against the government of Emmanuel Macron have been sweeping France for more than a month, with riots in the streets claiming the lives of at least seven people. As a result, smaller-scale demonstrations have been happening across Canada to show solidarity with the French protesters.
James Hoskins, who was on hand for the Halifax rally, says the small counter-protest resulted in the original message of the yellow vest rally becoming lost.
“Both have a right to be here and everybody has a right to their opinion, but what’s not being heard is our government should speak on the behalf of the majority, not just the minorities that are yelling louder,” Hoskins stated.
“Whether you’re protesting or sitting at home, every single person in this country has a right to their own opinion and a right to be heard.”
Hoskins hopes the focus can shift back to decisions made on the provincial and federal levels that he says are impacting the lives of Canadian families.
“This isn’t about whether you’re against the UN Migration Pact, it’s not about the carbon tax or the oil and gas prices collapsing, it’s about your freedom of speech and your right to be heard by your government.”
Yellow vest protesters said they will continue to show up outside City Hall every Saturday until the riots in France start to decrease.