Hundreds of semi-trailers, pickup trucks, cars and buses rolled into Ottawa Tuesday, to protest the federal government’s policies on the oil industry.
The rally was expected to occupy almost a kilometre of Wellington Street, in front of Parliament.
The main portion of the United We Roll Convoy set out from Red Deer, Alta., last Thursday and made stops in Regina, Dryden, Thunder Bay, and Sault Ste. Marie before mustering at Arnprior, Ont., just outside the capital.
A group of like-minded protesters from Eastern Canada was expected to join up with them in Ottawa.
WATCH BELOW: Hundreds of trucks from across Canada rolled into Ottawa to protest federal oil policies
The protesters want the Liberal government to scrap the carbon tax and two bills that overhaul environmental assessments of energy projects and ban oil tankers from the northern coast of British Columbia.
Small business owner Jerry Fetting, who came from Stony Plain, Alta., said he has been affected by the drop in oil prices in recent years and how it has hurt the Alberta economy.
“We’ve gone from 14 people down to six people. Those eight people, those eight families are now unemployed. They’re waiting for me to get busy again and it won’t get busy — I’m in the housing market — it won’t get busy till pipeline start getting built and people get back to work.”
Scores of people gathered in knee-deep snow on the Parliament Hill lawn in advance of morning speeches, amid concerns the convoy has become a magnet for extremist, anti-immigrant elements.
WATCH BELOW: Convoy member Jerry Fetting from Alberta says movement not about immigration, it’s about ‘building Canada’
Fetting said while he wore a yellow vest, he did not travel to Ottawa to talk about immigration and was frustrated with what he called radicals changing the focus.
“I’m German background, my wife is Ukrainian background. We’re all immigrants at some point, unless you’re Native American. We’re all one.”
“This movement is about building Canada, building pipelines,” said Fetting. “They are pushing the Bill C-48 and C-69. They are shutting Canada down. Canada was built with natural resources and that’s what this is about.”
WATCH BELOW: Convoy truck member John Bushey says they want Trudeau to ‘give Canada back to the people’ and denounced claims the convoy had taken on a racist connotation.
Lead organizer Glen Carritt said the display is about showing support for new oil pipelines and opposition to the federal carbon tax and new rules on oil transportation.
“The core message is we need immediate action for our pipelines to get in the ground, to get to tidewater and to the rest of Canada,” said Carritt, the owner of an oilfield fire and safety company in Innisfail, Alta.
Carritt said participants also are unhappy about the government’s recently signing a non-binding United Nations compact on global migration, adding Canada’s borders “need to be controlled” by Canada and its citizens.
Another convoy was originally created by a group that called itself Canada Action, which cancelled the plan and refunded thousands of dollars in donations after that effort became associated with extremist elements in the Yellow Vests Canada movement.
This convoy in Ottawa included members of the Yellow Vest Movement, whose demonstrations across the country have had widely varying agendas, from supporting pipelines to denouncing immigration and the United Nations compact on global migration.
Carritt originally referred to his convoy as a “yellow vest convoy” but renamed it United We Roll after it too was linked to people spewing hateful rhetoric against Muslims and immigrants.
WATCH BELOW: Convoy members rally in Ottawa against federal government
Some trucks in the convoy display the signature yellow vest garment on their front grilles but Carritt stressed the rally was open to anyone fed up with the federal government as long as they aren’t violent.
“No matter what you wear — whether you’re a yellow vest, blue coverall, white hardhat, black hardhat or a suit and tie — it doesn’t matter. The radicals can stay home. You’re not welcome to this rally.”
The master of ceremonies, Ron Barr, repeatedly told the Hill crowd to leave the media alone, saying they’re trying to help tell the story.
Alberta Conservative MPs Arnold Viersen, Jim Eglinski and Kevin Sorenson, as well as Ontario Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre, all spoke in support of the energy industry.
People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier told the crowd that “you’re just asking that this country will be able to build pipelines.”
Speaking to reporters in Edmonton, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said she respects the working people who are trying to get the message out about the province’s economic struggles.
WATCH BELOW: ‘This is Canada’ — Truck convoy says they’ve united the country and politicians need to listen
At the same time, Notley acknowledged the mixed-bag of issues being brought up by convoy participants.
“We have urged the organizers — and of course, they’ve changed over time — to be very careful to make sure that the message Canadians hear is the one that’s most compelling and matters most to Canadians on which there is most consensus — and that is the need to get pipelines built.”
WATCH BELOW: Truck convoy members chant ‘Trudeau for treason’ and said they are fighting for the country
Evan Balgord, the executive director the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, however, is warning that the convoy is giving a platform for hate.
“This convoy is a Yellow Vests Canada convoy and any well-meaning pro-pipeline individuals involved are in fact legitimizing and breathing oxygen into the broader Yellow Vests Canada movement, which spreads hate, conspiracy theories, and death threats targeting Muslims, politicians, and other Canadians,” he said.
WATCH: Truck convoy in support of pipelines arrives in Ottawa
— With files from Stephen Cook and Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
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