Ottawa

What people are saying at the United We Roll protest

A controversial pro-pipeline demonstration rolled onto Parliament Hill this week for two days of rallies. We asked them why they came.

Protesters crossed the country from Red Deer to Ottawa, but their reasons for coming varied

Protesters with the United We Roll convoy demonstrated on Parliament Hill in February, 2019, after crossing the country to share their pro-pipeline message. (CBC)

A controversial pro-pipeline demonstration rolled onto Parliament Hill this week for two days of rallies.

The United We Roll convoy, which left Red Deer, Alta., on Valentine's Day, arrived in the capital in a long line of transport and pickup trucks.

While organizers and most of the protestors were concerned about Alberta's need for another pipeline, others focused on their dissatisfaction with the federal government, the disappearance of agricultural land or closing Canada's borders to illegal immigration.

The protest also drew dozens of counter-protestors who criticized the United We Roll participants' stance on immigration, leading to heated verbal confrontations.

It drew to a close early Wednesday afternoon when the convoy left Parliament Hill, the start of a long journey home for some participants.

CBC asked several protesters over the two days about why they decided to take part.

Patrick King, Red Deer Alta.

(Laura Osman/CBC)

"The message is we need this pipeline not only because we want our oil and gas and we want to go to work. But Alberta provides 10 per cent of the gross domestic product when it comes to our contribution to the country. Upon that contribution to the country we are able to make these funds to help the other provinces," said Patrick King, one of the organizers of the event.

"Now we're down, we're hurting. Where's ours? When are we going to get the help?"​

Kent Lacoste, Weyburn Sask.

"Coming into Ontario we didn't know what to expect we didn't know there'd be any support for us if we'd have more people upset with what we were doing because we probably caused some traffic delays and stuff right and we get that but the support along the way has been phenomenal."

Bruce Mckenna, Enercorp Sand Solutions, Calgary, Alta.

"Our company is very stable, we diversified enough. We have a large market in the U.S.A. The reason I'm here today is to support our Canadian operations help try and recover in the West."

About the counter protestors on Parliament Hill:

"For every cause there is an anti-cause, and obviously they have a point to make and you can't take that away from them. But they are all standing around in their oil product boots and clothing. If it weren't for the oil and gas industry, they'd be standing here naked."

Andrew Szczepanski, with his son, Justin

"I'm trying to prove that the yellow vesters are not against any other nation. We are ... basically against people who are criminals that come to Canada.... But all the people who want to work hard and succeed in their life, go ahead and come here."

Jo Woods, Calgary Alta.

(Robyn Miller/CBC)

"Everybody that protests what we're trying to get out, they're all driving cars, they're all heating their houses. How do they do that without the oil and gas industry?" said Jo Woods, who lives in Calgary but often works in Ottawa in the winter. 

She joined the convoy on Parliament Hill. 

"You can't abolish us and we will be heard."

Chris Hansen, Ontario

(Laura Osman/CBC)

While organizers said the demonstration is meant to draw attention to Alberta's suffering economy, other protesters raised signs calling for a stop to illegal immigration. 

"I think we need to open pipelines and not open borders," said Chris Hansen, who would only say that he is from Ontario. "I think a lot of us want closed borders, open pipelines."

Paul Jones, Ottawa, Ont.

(Laura Osman/CBC)

Those messages angered some people enough that they stood out in the cold to register their opposition. Paul Jones stood on a Hwy-417 overpass to flash the middle finger at the convoy as it passed.

"I want to tell these truckers they're not welcome in Ottawa. It's legitimate debate about pipelines, but not racism. They wrap themselves in the anti-immigrant flag — that's disgusting and I don't want that in my town," Jones said. 

Many protestors at today's Yellow Vest convoy are upset with condition in the oil and gas industry...but some legal experts say that's not the only message they're carrying. 9:11

Rollie Montpellier, Ottawa, Ont.

(Robyn Miller/CBC)

Some detractors stood in opposition to the groups pro-oil and gas message. 

"Pipelines are going to be a thing of the past so I do not support new pipelines and I do not support the expansion of the tar sands, it's killing our climate," said Rollie Montellier, an environmental activist from Ottawa.

Arden Robitaille, Arnprior, Ont.

(Robyn Miller/CBC)

But the convoy attracted local supporters as well. 

Arden Robitaille arrived from just outside of Ottawa to show that he agrees with the Alberta protesters.

"I'm against what Trudeau is doing so I thought I would support the truckers. I think he's destroying what's going on with people's lives, the oil industry, our energy industry. So I think we need to stand up," he said.

The demonstration is expected to continue tomorrow, with more traffic detours and road closures expected downtown.

From Alberta to Parliament Hill to tell the government to build more pipelines. We meet one of the protesters in that truck convoy that arrives in Ottawa. 8:19