Once booming oil, gas and coal towns, Drumheller and Hanna residents have taken to the streets to protest federal government ideals and potential changes or lack thereof.
The main topics of discussion included the Carbon Tax, lack of pipeline action, Bill C-69 and equalization payments specifically to Quebec.
On Sun. Dec. 16, approximately 50 people joined the movement in Hanna for the first rally. The second took place on Sat. Dec. 22 where roughly 30 people attended.
Many adorned yellow jackets to mirror the protests that have been taking place in France as well as signs opposing certain government decisions.
Organizers David Starcevic and Shawn Godziuk don’t plan to stop these weekly gatherings until their voices have been heard.
“Basically we’re protesting the Carbon Tax, Bill C-69,” began Godziuk.
Starcevic added, “We’ve got to get the pipelines built.”
“Get the pipelines built, the immigration pact from the UN; we don’t want to sell out our borders. We are not racist, it’s not a racist protest. It could be people from any country coming and we can’t support them,” said Godziuk.
“I think Canada wasn’t built on those kinds of policies and stuff like that and I don’t think we should change enough because we have a good thing here and a great country so let’s leave it alone and run our own borders,” said Starcevic.
“Let’s take care of our own; our elderly, our homeless, our war vets, all of them first. Canada first,” said Godziuk.
The two agreed that all these natural resources including agriculture affect the rest of the economy directly or indirectly.
“A lot of people depend on feeding their kids and paying their rent and mortgages so we got to get that [pipeline] built,” said Starcevic.
They predict the number of protesters will only grow once the Christmas season is over.
“I think as the weeks go by it’s going to get bigger and bigger and eventually we will have to be heard. We can’t hide this kind of stuff,” said Starcevic.
Both organizers are encouraging anyone with similar views to join the movement as it continues to grow, especially the younger audience.
“If you are out there and you’re for it, anything whether it’s the pipeline or the UN pact, get a yellow vest and go out to wherever you’re at and support,” stated Starcevic.
Godziuk added, “Every person matters.”
As for Drumheller, Organizer Terry Couturier was pleased with the number of people who showed up on Sun. Dec. 23 at the Salvation Army Parking Lot across from the Husky gas station.
A bleak winter day quickly turned to sunshine as the day continued. Many protesters remained in the area along the highway for approximately three hours before calling it a day.
“I’m happy with it,” began Couturier. “It was really good for being this close to Christmas.”
Couturier has been involved with the oil patch for 33 years, claiming this has been one of the hardest times for people in the industry.
“It’s bad times. I’ve never seen it this bad. There’s a lot of people hurting here and a lot of people are upset over the UN Migration Pact that [Trudeau] signed. That’s one of the big ones for me. This is the worst government I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s pitted every race, every province, every religion against each other. It’s not good. We all have to unite together and get him out of power,” he said.
Recently, the Canadian government introduced Bill C–69, an act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.
These amendments included giving over control of Canadian borders to the United Nations, something many if not all of the protesters have disagreed with.
Recently, the bill passed third reading with 169 yes votes while 131 voted no.
Couturier was inspired by the rallies that took place in Nisku and Grande Prairie, which started the local protest in Drumheller.
Drumheller has acted as the central hub for oil and gas oriented jobs for many years but hardship has seen businesses pulling out of the area.
“There’s not a lot left here and it’s bad because a lot of people rely on this,” Couturier continued.
“He [Trudeau] has us completely landlocked with our oil. He’s doing what his father did. He wants to shut us down and break Alberta. That’s what he’s looking to do and he’s doing a good job of it.”
The organizer sees this protest continuing in the future, hoping to make a difference as time goes on.
The key is to remain united and bring this attention in the rural areas to the urban centres.
“I hope it keeps going and you see a lot of stuff on Facebook where just the oil industry is hijacked. We still have to look at Canada as a whole and all come together. We just have to get this government out.”
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