Organizers worry truck convoy confusion could threaten pro-pipeline message
As a push to send thousands of trucks to Ottawa as part of a pro-pipeline convoy gathers momentum, some organizers say they fear their message could be lost.
Convoys of big rig trucks have been taking over highways across the prairies in recent weeks as part of a growing movement aimed at showing support for the oil and gas sector while voicing frustration that many pipeline expansion projects have been stalled.
“What we found is we’ve had lots of rallies and we just feel that there isn’t anybody paying attention in Ottawa,” said Gary Carritt, an organizer with the group planning the Yellow Vest (official) convoy to Ottawa. “We Just feel the only way to make any noise and get them to start to listen to us is [to] actually go to Ottawa.”
Carritt said the plan is to have a convoy of trucks leave Calgary on Feb. 15 with the aim of arriving on Parliament Hill on Feb. 20. The problem is, Carritt’s group isn’t the only one planning such a convoy.
A second coalition of several groups including Canada Action, OilSands Strong, #thenorthmatters, Oilfield Dads and Rally for Resources is also organizing a convoy due to leave for Ottawa on Feb. 15.
According to Canada Action founder Cody Battersill, there are concerns among his camp that working with the Yellow Vest movement could serve as a distraction.
“We’re all working on this together on the basis that this is a positive, fact-driven and respectful campaign that is non-partisan,” said Battersill.
Those concerns are valid, according to Mount Royal University public relations expert Allison MacKenzie.
“When you look at big movements that have been tremendously successful, like ‘Idle No More’ or ‘Occupy Wall Street,’ you see that their message was very focused, very concentrated,” she said. “The Yellow Vest movement has been very diluted in terms of what exactly they’re all about.”
MacKenzie said the association between local Yellow Vest movements and the images of Yellow Vest protests in France is also a potential problem from a public relations point of view.
“In France, there were the burnings, there was rioting. These are very un-Canadian things,” she said. “This isn’t how we show our displeasure, so being associated with radical movements, with anarchist movements — that won’t necessarily move the pipeline cause forward.”
Carritt said he understands the concerns but feels there is value to moving forward under the Yellow Vest banner.
“The Yellow Vest is recognized all across Canada,” he said. “I look at this as just a minor hurdle and I think we will all eventually realize we are fighting for the same goal in getting some trucks and some people to Ottawa to show them we are not happy.”
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