Hundreds of Albertans gathered for a truck convoy in northwestern Alberta, to show their support for the province’s struggling energy industry.
On Sunday afternoon, an eight-kilometre convoy of big rigs and pickups rolled through Whitecourt, located about 165 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.
The event wasn’t put together by a specific group. Instead, word of the convoy spread by mouth and via various Facebook groups after a rally was held in Drayton Valley earlier in December.
Organizer Blaine Lewis said everyone who participated did it out of their own personal account, adding they were “real Albertans with real problems.”
“I represent my family, my friends, my community, my province and my country,” he told Global News. “All the people who are done with the way this country is ran. We want Notley and Trudeau to resign right now.”
JR’s Pressure Truck Services Ltd. general manager Jeremy Sergeew Imhoff said the company had nine trucks in the convoy. The company has operated in the Whitecourt area for 26 years and has weathered the ups and downs of Alberta’s economy.
“We haven’t fully recovered from 2015’s downturn,” he said, adding the company hasn’t had to lay off employees yet and is doing everything it can to shelter workers from the market conditions.
Although the price for Alberta crude has rebounded slightly from just $11 a barrel in November, it is still trading well below the benchmark West Texas Intermediate.
The price gap is costing Canada’s economy an estimated $80 million per day, according to both the Alberta and federal governments.
“There is only so far that can go and if things don’t turn around in the new year, there will be a lot of companies shutting their doors,” Imhoff said.
He, like many Albertans, wants Canada step up to help Alberta’s oil industry, given its broader beneficial impact on the national economy.
“Our government, that should be protecting our interests, has failed us miserably,” Imhoff added.
Numerous rallies and truck convoys have been held across Alberta and Saskatchewan in recent weeks and one will roll into Ottawa in February.
The convoys are to protest against federal actions that critics say will make building pipelines more difficult.
Those include Bill C-69 to revamp the National Energy Board and Bill C-48, which would ban oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s northern coast.
A convoy in Medicine Hat last weekend attracted 650 vehicles and groups are planning one that will travel from Western Canada to the nation’s capital.
Earlier this December, thousands of vehicles showed up for a 22-kilometre long convoy through the Nisku industrial area south of Edmonton.
— With files from The Canadian Press