The trucks came from near and far bearing name plates from Oxbow and Carnduff, Rivers and Hamiota. About 125 vehicles gathered in an industrial parking lot near Virden last Saturday, driven there from all across Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
That number grew to nearly 200 by the time the Yellow Vest Convoy reached Brandon, picking up supporters in every town along the way.
The convoy was in protest over Ottawa’s policies on a variety of issues mainly related to energy and taxes.
Co-organizer Rick Walker of Virden was happy with the turnout and how the event proceeded. “We had the odd person giving us the finger along the way. Not everybody agrees with us, that’s normal.”
Before the trucks left the parking lot, several speakers took to a flatbed to explain why they thought the convoy was needed and to whip up the crowd.
Rob Dinsdale of the Brandon PC board spoke on behalf of Brandon-Souris MP Larry Maguire. He called the assembled oil workers “unsung heroes” and outlined how the Conservatives plan to deal with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “war against the energy sector.”
Dinsdale listed four key goals: repeal of controversial Bill C69 which approves energy projects, cancel the ban on shipping energy from the BC coast, end the carbon tax, and stop foreign meddling in pipelines.
Trudeau himself came under frequent fire.
“I know what I’d like to do with Mr. Trudeau but I’d be in jail if I did that,” said Virden Mayor Murray Wright from the flatbed. “The first pig we run through the pipeline when we get it built out west, make sure he’s duct taped to the front of it.” (Pigs are devises used to do internal maintenance on pipelines.)
Walker and his co-organizer Damen MacGillivray of Brandon have differing views on what should happen next, now that their first event is in the books. Walker says he’s done his part but MacGillivray wants further action such as lobbying.
“I’d like to see it go to a different level by grouping people together and having conversations as to what policies are going to affect us in our area. I think there needs to be a much stronger push back on local MPs by saying, ‘These are our issues and if you want our votes, you need to represent them.’”
As to the effectiveness of the Virden protest and convoy, Walker says he never expected any official reaction from Ottawa given that much larger Yellow Vest protests have been staged to no avail. All he wanted, says Walker, was to let Alberta and BC know, “we support them 100 per cent” and to get people thinking about who they’ll replace Trudeau with come the next federal election.