Saskatchewan

NDP leader says premier sending 'terrible message' by planning to attend anti-carbon tax rally

The leader of the Saskatchewan NDP says Premier Scott Moe is sending a "terrible message" by attending and speaking at an anti-carbon tax rally later this week.

Premier Scott Moe says Ryan Meili is labelling attendees as 'racist'

Sask. Opposition Leader Ryan Meili raised concerns about Premier Scott Moe attending an upcoming rally. (Bryan Eneas/CBC News)

The leader of the Saskatchewan NDP says Premier Scott Moe is sending a "terrible message" by attending and speaking at an anti-carbon tax rally later this week.

In question period on Monday, Ryan Meili called the Regina Rally Against the Carbon Tax "The so-called no yellow vest rally this Thursday is a yellow vest rally without the yellow vests."

Organizers have said one politically-charged type of clothing is not welcome: yellow vests.

The yellow vest movement in Canada has come under fire in recent weeks for views shared on immigration both at rallies and online.

Meili said Canadian anti-hate groups have seen increases in online hate against Muslim people, Jewish people and newcomers since the start of the yellow vest movement.

Meili claimed the rally is being "organized by yellow vests".

"The reason he [Moe] couldn't distance himself from yellow vest rallies is because he was busy planning one," Meili said referring to Thursday's event.

The comment drew groans from the government side of the assembly.

Moe said the government has no role in organizing the rally and said his attendance is because the event is in opposition to federal bills that could hurt the oil patch, as well as the carbon tax.

Moe took aim at Meili's questions, saying he labelled those planning to attend the rally as racists.

"What we saw here today is the leader of the opposition essentially called all of the people the hardworking people, the farmers, the energy workers and manufacturing workers across this province that are coming to voice their opinion in the Regina this Thursday and myself included. He labeled them as a racist."

"This is the worst form of identity politics that I have seen in my elected life and maybe in my life," Moe said.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe will speak at a rally against the carbon tax on Apr. 4 in Regina. (CBC)

Last week, a spokesperson for the rally Jason LeBlanc said the yellow vest movement has "gotten self-destructive" and "represents far too many things."

"I don't think that the people that wear the yellow vests are bad people at all," LeBlanc said.

"I never wore a yellow vest in my life and I agree with some other points but definitely not all of the points," he said.

LeBlanc attended and spoke at the United We Roll rally in Ottawa.

The organizer of the convoy originally referred to his group as the "yellow vest convoy" but renamed it United We Roll after it was linked to extremist elements within the yellow vest movement.

LeBlanc has referred to himself as a "climate change doomsday denier".

Climate change controversy

Meili also raised tweets from the rally's official Twitter account. One in particular posted on Mar. 18 reads:

"Climate change: the made up catastrophe used by globalists & socialists to instill fear and guilt to tax, regulate and remove our freedoms while pretending to be saving the planet."

This tweet from the Regina Rally Against Carbon Tax account caused NDP Leader Ryan Meili to ask Premier Scott Moe if he agreed with it. (Twitter/@againsttax)

Moe said he had not seen the tweet and when asked if he agree with it he said, "I don't agree with the wording but I do agree with the fact that it is an issue with a policy of carbon taxation."

"There is cyclical climate change but there is also an impact that mankind has not just on our climate but on all of our environment."

When Moe was asked what message he would share at the rally Moe said, "we'll have to wait until Thursday to see what I'm going to say. I'm going to say a lot."

Meili said the premier is sending a "terrible message" simply by agreeing to attend the rally which he said has an "association with yellow vest the and with climate change deniers".

"He wants to say he believes in climate change but he wants the people who don't to still be on his side."

When asked previously by reporters about anti-immigrant and racist posts that have shown up on yellow vest Facebook pages, the premier has said he was "not interested in looking at the yellow vest Facebook page."

Protesters with the United We Roll convoy demonstrated on Parliament Hill in February after crossing the country. (CBC)

"I see a premier wanting to have his cake and eat it too. He needs to know when he's going to be promoting an organization or an event. What the roots of that event are."

Meili initially said he was interested in attending the rally until he looked into it further. He had some suggestions for Moe's speech.

"If he does attend that he makes it 100 per cent clear that climate change is real it's man-made and we need to take serious action. That the U.N. is not a threat to us and that the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-Semitic language that has been coming from yellow vest events is dead wrong and we're 100 per cent against it."

About the Author

Adam Hunter

Journalist

Adam Hunter is the provincial affairs reporter at CBC Saskatchewan, based in Regina. He has been with CBC for 12 years. He hosts the CBC podcast On the Ledge. Follow him on Twitter @AHiddyCBC. Contact him: adam.hunter@cbc.ca