Yellow vest protests spread to Canada, criticizing illegal immigration, taxes
Originally starting in France, yellow vest protests have moved to Canada. Many were held Saturday across the country criticizing the tax and immigration policies of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government.
The protests against French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, which began as a criticism of fuel taxes have entered their fifth week. Over 66,000 people decided to defy the government’s orders to suspend protests this past weekend. At least eight people have been killed since riots began in that country.
Similar demonstrations have taken place in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in the last several weeks.
They made their way to Canada on Saturday, with protests and counter-protests hitting cities including Saskatoon, Toronto, Moncton, N.B., Calgary, Halifax and Edmonton.
Protests spurred on by carbon taxes, pipelines
In the Maritimes, a small local group of demonstrators gathered in front of Halifax’s City Hall criticizing a laundry list of issues including Trudeau’s carbon tax.
“I have never met even one Canadian that understands how a carbon tax is going to reduce carbon emissions,” protester James Hoskins told CTV Atlantic. Another demonstrator, Barry Ahern, criticized Trudeau’s summer grant program which he called “oppression of Canadians by our own people.”
In Calgary, a large rally began outside the downtown Kerby Centre, with protester Craig Chandler telling CTV Calgary that people were upset over pipelines and Trudeau’s leadership in general.
“Ever since France has been doing it, everybody wants to do it, “ said Chandler, a member of the Progressive Group for Independent Business, who also called out Calgary Centre MP Kent Hehr.
“We want to know from our MP why he’s done nothing on the pipeline problem, why he’s done nothing on oil and gas when he represents oil and gas,” Chandler said. “We want to know why Quebec is getting $13 billion in transfer payments when we’re hurting.”
Hehr acknowledged the difficulties in the city but stressed his government’s commitment to some pipeline construction — including the Trans Mountain expansion.
“There is no doubt that we want to ensure that when Alberta does well, Canada does well,” he said.
Grievances included taxes, immigration
Meanwhile, in Toronto, a group of about 60 protesters, gathered in Nathan Philips Square to voice frustration about the status quo.
While carbon taxes and immigration were the focus of protests in North Bay, Ont., where a counter-protest took place in the town’s multicultural centre.
In Edmonton, there was tension between the yellow vest demonstrators and counter-protesters with hundreds gathering at the Alberta Legislature. Many had shown up to criticize the province’s high taxes and voice concern over the future of the province’s energy industry.
“I’m tired of Trudeau basically doing what he wants with our money and sending it overseas,” Turk, a yellow-vested protestor, told CTV Edmonton. “Right now, personally, I’m facing a job crisis. All our oil jobs are gone, all our money is going south.”
In many cities, last week’s signing of the UN’s Global Compact for Migration in Morocco is what drove their anger. Canada was among the 164 nations that signed on. The United States was not.
Despite demonstrators’ claims that the pact will open Canada’s borders in never-before-seen ways, it is not legally binding and Canada has not agreed to changing its immigration laws in accordance with it.
Counter-protesters say demonstrations had racial aspects
Yellow vest protesters in several cities were met with opposition with many denouncing the protests.
In Halifax, social activist and counter-protester Rana Zaman argued some people were only upset with a particular type of migration,
“Somehow immigration automatically too many equals Muslims,” she said.
“People are drowning in poverty, we are not taking care of our veterans, our seniors are not being respected, they are dying in hallways,” she said. “Our healthcare is suffering, people are waiting years and years for surgery. That’s what I want to fight for.”
In Edmonton, yellow vest protesters went to Winston Churchill Square and came face to face with a small group of counter-protesters. Those critical of yellow vest movements called them anti-globalist and said there were elements of racism involved.
“I am here to fight racism and to fight hatred that is being put up by this group,” said Edmonton counter-protester Adebaya Quinitiiti. “That anger they have is going to tear them apart. Things can be talked through without hatred, without racism.”
Multiple protesters in Edmonton were arrested after several scuffles between the two groups.
With reports from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff , CTV Northern Ontario, CTV Calgary’s Brad MacLeod, CTV Edmonton’s Timm Bruch and The Associated Press
Watch below: How the yellow vest movement started in France