Regina will see over 500 trucks make their way through the city as part of the Regina Rally Against the Carbon Tax.
Premier Scott Moe will speak at the rally and is being joined by cabinet colleagues Energy and Resource Minister Bronwyn Eyre and Highways Minister Lori Carr.
Opposition Leader Ryan Meili was considering attending the rally, and based on a Twitter video from rally organizer Jason LeBlanc, invited to attend.
However, Meili will not be attending due to what he described as links to the yellow vest movement.
“It’s a rally where the organizers, a number of the organizers, including LeBlanc who’s the most visible spokesperson, have been involved with the yellow vest movement, with the rebranded “United We Roll” convoy that had people like Faith Goldy present, anti-U.N. and migration sentiments expressed there,” Meili said.
“It’s folks that are comfortable with the yellow vest, comfortable with what they represent, comfortable with what they become, comfortable with that rally that concerns me.”
The Canadian yellow vest movement began as a pro-pipeline, anti-carbon tax movement but has grown to include themes of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiment and opposition to the U.N. compact on migration among other issues.
One of the rally’s co-organizers, Blair Stewart, said the group does not want to focus on debate in the legislative assembly.
“I’m not going to comment on that, honestly. I think this group that’s organized for the Regina Rally Against the Carbon Tax, we’re focused on four points and four points only,” Stewart said.
Those points are calling for pipeline construction, scrapping legislation critics say will slow the energy industry like bills C-69 and C-48, and opposing the carbon tax.
It is worth noting that posters advertising the rally, their social media and website all say “yellow vests prohibited”.
“The motivation for this rally is not driven by politics. We’ve invited all the leaders from all the parties. This cuts across all walks of life – what I do, what you do, everybody. The carbon tax we know, at the end of the day is going to cost us more money,” Stewart said.
When Meili brought this up in relation to Moe speaking at Thursday’s rally during Monday’s question period, the premier described it as “the worst form of identity politics” he’d seen.
“The farmers, the energy workers, the manufacturers, from across this province that are coming to voice their opinion in Regina this Thursday and myself included he labelled them as a racist,” Moe said.
“This is the worst form of identity politics I have seen in my elected life and maybe in my life.”
Stewart added people registering to attend the rally include rural residents and a good amount of people from Moose Jaw and Regina.
Meili has brought up the yellow vest movement repeatedly in question period, and the fact that Carr and Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit were photographed at yellow vest rallies in their home communities of Estevan and Yorkton.
When this has come up, Moe repeatedly condemned racism and said the ministers were there to support the energy sector.
For Thursday’s rally, Meili said people attending to voice support for the energy industry “deserve a better event” without yellow vest connotations.
“Have an event where we talk about energy policy – that’s great. But the association with yellow vest, the association with climate change deniers, the groups that are behind it sends the wrong message. The people who are going there deserve better,” Meili said.
Climate change denial
Meili also raised a now deleted tweet from the rally’s official Twitter account, describing climate change as a “made-up catastrophe used by globalists and socialists to instill fear and guilt to tax, regulate and remove our freedoms while pretending to be saving the planet.”
When asked about this, Moe said people have a lot of opinions on climate change and that is their right. As for addressing climate change denial, Moe said to wait for his speech on Thursday.
“I will say what I believe. I will say what all of the information I have brings to me, and that is two things. One, climate change is a global challenge. Two, Saskatchewan has in many ways – in the industries we operate in – very good answers to how we address that challenge as we move forward,” Moe said.
Moe added that he was unfamiliar with the tweet that was brought up in question period. Meili said the premier should be doing more research before agreeing to speak at events.
The rally’s Twitter account, @againsttax, has 112 tweets.
Stewart said he doesn’t use Twitter, so can’t comment on why the tweet Meili brought up was deleted. He added it was likely deleted because it conflicted with focusing exclusively on the rallies previously stated four points.
“This group is that message. We can’t really determine what happens outside the boundaries,” Stewart said.
The rally will be leaving Estevan Thursday morning, and is expected to arrive in Regina via Highway 33 around 10:30 a.m. It is expected to conclude at Evraz Place around 2 p.m.
There will be increased police presence along the route through Regina to guide traffic.
Question period argument continues
This issue carried over into Tuesday’s question period. Meili accused Moe of misusing his words, saying he never suggested that everyone that attends Thursday’s rally is a racist.
Moe criticized Meili for using climate change denying tweets against him, pointing to a rally Meili attended Tuesday in favour of a $15 minimum wage. Moe referenced anti-pipeline and anti-police tweets coming from one of the rallies organizers.
Meili responded that he supports police and pipelines, and flipped the questioning back to Moe and whether or not he will say climate change is man-made on Thursday. Moe replied that Meili will have to come to the rally and wait until Thursday for a response.