Saskatchewan

Sask. premier criticizes Trudeau, NDP at anti-carbon tax rally in Regina

Hundreds of vehicles rolled through Regina on Thursday for a rally against the newly imposed federal carbon tax, an event which included Premier Scott Moe.

More than 1,000 people attended rally

Scott Moe addresses the hundreds of people who participated in an anti-carbon tax rally in Regina on April 4, 2019. (Adam Hunter/CBC News)

Premier Scott Moe took to the stage to the sound of applause and cheers in Regina on Thursday at a packed anti-carbon tax rally that came after a convoy of hundreds of trucks rolled through the city.

The Regina Rally Against the Carbon Tax drew more than a thousand people to the Queensbury Centre at Evraz Place.

Speakers at the rally had sharp words for the federal government, and Ralph Goodale's name was booed almost any time it was mentioned.

Moe's speech lashed out at Ottawa's policies, including the implementation of the carbon tax, which came into effect at the start of this month.

"We're sending a message that can be heard from coast to coast to coast, a message that is as clear as a prairie sky," Moe said. "It's a message to the Prime Minister of this nation: it's time that we came together to defend our world-class resource industries."

Moe called on the federal government to reverse the carbon tax and walk back Bill C-69, which he said was responsible for the delays and nixing of pipeline projects across the country, and Bill C-48, which he called "the no more tankers bill."

The premier called on the federal government to find a way to get goods to market by road, rail or pipeline.

Rally a heated topic in question period

Earlier this week Moe and NDP leader Ryan Meili repeatedly clashed over the premier's planned attendance at the rally.

On Monday, Meili called the Regina Rally Against the Carbon Tax "a yellow vest rally without the yellow vests."

Meili also claimed the premier was helping organize the rally, something Moe said wasn't true at all.

The yellow vest movement in Canada has come under fire in recent weeks for anti-immigration sentiments expressed by some members both at rallies and online.

The Facebook page for Thursday's rally in Regina said yellow vests were prohibited and it seems that message got through. CBC reporters didn't see any at the rally.

Those who attended the rally had a fairly homogeneous message; organizers say they didn't have to ask anyone to leave the rally. (Adam Hunter/CBC News)

Moe used time in his speech Thursday to criticize Meili's decision to not attend — which drew boos from those gathered — and accuse Meili of supporting the federal carbon tax.

"It's pretty clear to me the NDP doesn't support you, so why on Earth would any of you support them?" Moe asked the crowd.

Hundreds participate in convoy

A convoy of vehicles, mostly from southeast Saskatchewan, headed into the city around 10:30 a.m. CST. They came in on Highway 33, drove northwest on Arcola Avenue and onto Saskatchewan Drive through the city centre, many honking their horns the whole route.

Hundreds of trucks convoyed through Regina towards the Queensbury Convention Centre, where they gathered for an anti-carbon tax rally. (CBC News)

The Regina Police Service oversaw the event with help from Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan, Estevan and Weyburn police, and RCMP.

"We're not the organizers of it, but we have the responsibility to try to help move that convoy safely and help keep people safe and also uphold their rights, including the protesters the right to protest," said police service spokesperson Elizabeth Popowich.

'We were forced into this'

Rally speaker Blair Stewart, founder of Stewart Southern Railway, which runs between Regina and Stoughton, said that if the government walks back the carbon tax, and re-examines Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, there won't be another rally like Thursday's. 

Blair Stewart was one of the organizers of the anti-carbon tax protest in Regina on Thursday. (CBC News)

"Typically, oil guys, growers, heavy construction [people], we're not protesters. We don't stand here, we go to work [and] want to go to work," he said. "We were forced into this." 

Stewart said the sheer volume of people who turned out speaks to the number of people who are opposed to the carbon tax. 

Vince Good held a one-person counter-protest at the anti-carbon tax rally in Regina on Thursday. The sign he carried read "I can't breathe" on one side and "Yes, tax pollution" on the other. (Submitted by Vince Good)

He also called on the federal government to provide facts to prove that a carbon tax helps the environment. 

"Where's the facts? Has anybody really seen the facts and figures that it contributes to this?" he asked.

"At the end of the day, I don't see that. I'm not a climate denier, no. But there has been no facts from the federal government to say if we spend $20 a tonne or $50, here's what it's going to do."

1-man counter-protest gets a reaction

While anti-carbon-tax signs were plentiful, one man showed up to offer a counter-opinion.

Vince Good's sign said "I can't breathe" on one side and "Yes, tax pollution" on the other.

"The second I walked around a corner with the sign, the looks started and the comments started — not particularly friendly ones," Good said. 

Hundreds of people attended a rally against the federal carbon tax and in support of pipeline projects across the country. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News)

He added that while a member of the media was trying to interview him, one of the nearby truckers blasted his horn the whole time.

The rally concluded later in the afternoon, with many of its participants starting their journey home heading back along Lewvan Drive, as instructed by Regina police.

With files from Adam Hunter, Cory Coleman

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