Alberta oil and gas advocacy group cancels ‘Convoy to Ottawa’

Click to play video: 'Alberta truck convoy in support of oil and gas industry'
Alberta truck convoy in support of oil and gas industry
Dec. 19, 2018: A huge crowd gathered in Nisku, south of Edmonton, Wednesday for a pro-pipeline truck convoy and rally in support of Alberta's oil and gas industry. Here's a look at the convoy from the Global 1 news helicopter – Dec 19, 2018

A coalition of Alberta oil and gas advocacy groups has cancelled a truck convoy to Ottawa it was planning for February due to “unexpected challenges.”

Rally 4 Resources, a grassroots movement based in Red Deer that promotes resource-based industries, was planning to start the convoy on Feb. 15. Another group, Canada Action, was also helping plan the event, including raising money to cover costs through a GoFundMe campaign.

Since March, the two groups have organized about 30 rallies across Canada.
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However, on Monday, organizers issued a statement saying they had to cancel the convoy.

READ MORE: Western Canadian grassroots group plans ‘Convoy to Ottawa’ to push pipelines

“We would like to recognize the overwhelming support and courage that so many Canadians from coast to coast have expressed in their desire to participate in the Resource Coalition Convoy to Ottawa,” read a statement posted on the GoFundMe page.

“This event was planned in response to the overwhelming momentum that’s been building from our resource rallies. Unfortunately, we have come to the decision that it is no longer viable to proceed with our planned convoy.

“As such, we will be issuing full refunds to all of our donors. We greatly appreciate your support.”

READ MORE: Nisku truck convoy and pro-pipeline rally ‘way bigger than expected’: organizer

Nicole Wapple, a spokesperson for the group, said anyone who donated to the cause will get their money back. Reimbursements started at 2 p.m. Monday, she said.

“GoFundMe has advised us that donors will receive a full refund in three to seven business days,” the group’s statement added. “Those who donated through the website will be contacted and fully refunded.

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WATCH BELOW: (Jan. 3, 2019) The push is on to send thousands of trucks to Ottawa as part of a pro-pipeline convoy but at least one expert believes it could fall on deaf ears if organizers aren’t careful with their message. Heather Yourex-West explains. 

Click to play video: 'Convoy confusion could threaten pro-pipeline message'
Convoy confusion could threaten pro-pipeline message

READ MORE: Pro and anti-Trans Mountain pipeline protesters clash in Calgary

“While we are disappointed that we cannot proceed, we would like to assure our supporters that we are committed to advocating for our natural resource sector, and our national economy.

Wapple wouldn’t elaborate on the specific reasons behind the cancellation.

“There were a few different challenges that we didn’t think were in our control,” she explained.

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READ MORE: Organizers worry truck convoy confusion could threaten pro-pipeline message

“It’s disappointing. But last year was a huge year for us and the whole coalition in terms of advancement and advocacy.”

Cody Battershill, the founder of Canada Action, told Global News he could not get into specifics about what concerns the convoy’s organizers had.

“The resource coalition group, we’ve just been dealing with a couple of different issues related to organizing the convoy and we just made this decision as a group that this was the best way for us to move forward,” he said.

“Unfortunately, just listening to feedback from our supporters and volunteers and looking at all the details, there’s a number of unexpected challenges that we’re just not able to mitigate.”

While the convoy planned by the resource coalition is being cancelled, another pro-oil convoy from Red Deer to Ottawa has been planned in mid-February by another group, associated with Canada’s so-called “yellow vest movement.”

When asked if the yellow vest convoy had anything to do with the decision to cancel the other convoy, Battershill said it wasn’t related to any other people or groups and that he was “not going to comment on any other groups or activities that are going on out there.”

Battershill said his group soon plans to announce details about a “province-wide rally in Alberta” to show support for the country’s oil and gas sector, and that they are working on organizing similar rallies in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C.

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“We’re certainly not going to slow down,” he said. “We’re not going to stop our advocacy for our families and for the resource sector.”

–With files from Global News’ Phil Heidenreich

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