On Saturday, Jan. 5, a protest convoy is planned for Virden that could be larger than anything seen here before.
It was inspired by the Yellow Vest Movement and organized by Rick Walker of Virden and Damen MacGillivrayof Brandon.
Walker, who works in oil trucking, is inviting drivers of all types of vehicles (not just semis) to gather at the rallying point Sparks Sand & Gravel west of Virden at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
They plan to head east on the TransCanada Highway at noon, drive down 18th St. through Brandon, and return to Virden.
“These convoys are happening all over Canada,” says Walker. “The one in Estevan had over 400 vehicles. Our convoy has had lots and lots of interest. We have vehicles coming to support us from Carnduff, Estevan, Brandon.”
Walker predicts several hundred drivers and vehicles could show up for the Virden-Brandon convoy.
“I wanna see the convoy 20 miles long – no, 100 miles long. I want our first truck to be pulling into Brandon at the same time the last truck leaves Virden.”
Staff Sgt. Joe Frizzley of the Virden detachment says RCMP may provide an escort for the convoy – that was still under consideration with Westman Traffic Services at press deadline. But he doesn’t expect any problems other than traffic delays during the convoy.
“From what I have been told, this is a group of good, hard-working Canadians from the heartland of the country that are passionate about having a voice with our Canadian Government for change, so I don't expect any problems,” he said.
However, French authorities did experience problems with violence when the Yellow Vest movement was launched in France. Protesters there vented their fury over rising fuel prices, taxes, and the high cost of living.
After those mass demonstrations, the yellow vest symbol quickly spread around the world with protests, rallies and convoys occurring in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Taking a stand
Organizers of the Westman convoy say the sore points are pipelines and resources, taxation and Canadian sovereignty.
“We’re protesting the way the government is handling things like the (Trans Mountain) pipeline shutdown and carbon taxes,” says Walker. “We’re letting them know we’re sick and tired of it, and we’re going to take a stand.”
McGillivray says, “I’ve been seeing what’s happening in Alberta and Saskatchewan and it’s actually making me furious. It affects Manitoba, too.
“There was a lot said on Facebook about what is going on, but we actually have to put action to the words and that’s all I wanted to do - move this from a Facebook platform and get people on the ground to show their support and open a conversation to discuss these issues.”
Libs down in poll
The convoys in Canada reflect a larger problem for the federal Liberals: dissatisfaction with the Trudeau government is growing in rural Manitoba.
A Probe Research poll indicates support for the Liberals, which was at 33 per cent in 2015, has now dropped to 19 per cent outside of Winnipeg. Fifty-eight per cent of decided voters said they’d support the Tories, up 10 percentage points from the last election.
Probe conducted the survey between Nov. 27 and Dec. 6.
Canadian voters go to the polls in less than a year.