Convoy update: down to the wire, things are coming together

INNISFAIL, Alta. –  There have been some turns in the road, but it looks like there will indeed be a convoy gathering steam and trucks rolling across Western Canada right up to Parliament Hill, letting the government know the energy sector has had enough.

On Feb. 14, most of the rubber is expected to hit the road, starting in Red Deer, Alta. After several fits and starts, a convoy of close to 300 units is coming together, according to organizer Glen Carritt, who spoke to Pipeline News on Feb. 6.

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The convoy will be leaving Red Deer on Feb. 14. This is the day before the opening of the Winter Games, which kicks off in Red Deer on Feb. 15.  

But some trucks are expected to start rolling a day earlier, in Peace River country in northwest Alberta and northeast British Columbia, so the can make it to Red Deer to join the rest of the group.

The route through Alberta starts at Red Deer at Gort’s Truck Wash at 8 a.m. on Feb. 14. From there it passes Strathmore, Brooks and Medicine Hat before crossing into Saskatchewan on Highway 1 around 2:30 p.m. (Alberta time) It is expected to hit Gull Lake at 5 p.m. (now Saskatchewan time), then Swift Current and arrive in Regina around 9 p.m. A few hotels have set aside blocks of rooms for booking, including one at Emerald Park, on Regina’s east side.

On Feb. 15, the principal convoy is expected to depart Regina at 8 a.m., passing Moosomin at 10:30 and reaching Virden, Man., at about 11:30.

A group from southeast Saskatchewan is expected to congregate at the Fast Trucking Service yard in Carnduff the morning of Feb. 15, departing at 8 a.m. It is expected to join up with the main convoy at Virden at 11:30. Anyone from the southwest Manitoba oilfield will likely join in Virden at this time.

The convoy is anticipated to pass Winnipeg at 3:30 p.m. and the Ontario border at 5:15 p.m. It is expected to reach Kenora, Ont., at 7.p.m. (Ontario time) that evening, and stay overnight there.

This is a change from initial plans, which had noted Dryden, Ont. as the overnight layover location, due to a shortage of hotel space at Dryden.

On Feb. 16, the group is expected to depart Kenora at 7 a.m., continuing on the TransCanada Highway along the northern shore of Lake Superior. The convoy is expected to pass Thunder Bay at 1 p.m., Rossport at 3:30 p.m., Wawa at 6:30 p.m. and arriving at Sault. St. Marie at 9 p.m.

Feb. 17 starts with departure of Sault St. Marie at 8 a.m., passing Sudbury at 12:30 p.m., Mattawa at 3 p.m. and arriving at Arnprior at 6 p.m. Arnprior is 50 kilometres as the crow flies from downtown Ottawa and Parliament Hill.

Feb. 18 is “a day of grace,” in case weather causes delays. Activities in Ottawa are expected to commence Feb. 19 with a convoy to Parliament Hill in the morning.

Recognizing that some people might not be able to commit to the entire expedition, organizers are encouraging people to join the convoy at one of the points along the route and go along for as long as they are able, whether that’s city to city or border to border.

Several enthusiastic participants have gone so far as to cover their vehicles with decals, a form of rolling billboard. Carritt’s fire truck is one of them.

For communications while en route, participants are encouraged to use the LADD 2 radio channel.

“I’ll be driving. I’ll be in my fire truck,” Carritt, owner of OP Fire & Safety, said.

Additionally, a few trucks are expected to come from Eastern Canada, from New Brunswick and Quebec. Carritt expects

On the Hill

On Feb. 19 the convoy will roll out of Arnprior, now Highway 417, and to Parliament Hill, where they will be parking nearby. “It’ll take us a couple of hours,” Carritt said.

Speeches at Parliament Hill will begin at 11 a.m. and the rally will carry on until 4 p.m. As it’s winter in Ottawa, participants are expected to dress for the outdoor weather. The permit for the rally indicates it will take place near the Centennial Flame and near the main stairs.

Not just oil and gas

“This isn’t just oil and gas, this isn’t just the farming industry, this is all Canadians,” Jason Corbeil, the organizer who has been organizing the trucks, said in a Facebook live broadcast on Feb. 6.

Carritt said they will be coming back on Feb. 20, from 10 a.m. to noon for a few more speeches and to ensure everything is cleaned up. After that, he expects the convoy to disperse and head back home on their own timing and accord, whether they choose to leave that day or the next day.

“We’re tired of the carbon tax. We’re tired of Bill C-69,” Carritt said in the same Facebook broadcast

Sorting out the convoys

The month of January was punctuated by some growing pains, as it were, in organizing a convoy to Ottawa. Initially there were two convoys planned, one under the banner of Yellow Vests, and a second by a coalition led by Canada Action. The Canada Action efforts ended on Jan. 14, in large part because they did not want to be associated with any negative connotations affiliated with one of the issues some Yellow Vest supporters have been rallying behind, namely immigration and the United Nations Migration Pact. So at that point it was down to one convoy, with the key rallying point being the Yellow Vest (Official) Convoy to Ottawa Facebook page.

However, in late January there was a schism in the leadership of that effort as well. Two of the key organizers, Carritt, an Innisfail city councillor, and Corbeil, a service rig consultant, broke from the Yellow Vest (Official) Convoy group and reformed under the banner “United We Roll! Official Convoy for Canada!” Under the new name, they aren’t saying those wearing yellow vests are not welcome, but they are no longer promoting that highly identifiable sign of protest, either.

Convoy organizers in southeast Saskatchewan, like Jay Riedel and David Grass, fell into lockstep behind Carritt and Corbeil.

A week later, it was evident that the efforts on the Yellow Vest (Official) Convoy to Ottawa Facebook page all but folded after the departure of Carritt and Corbeil, and the United We Roll group would be proceeding. It is their listing of the timeline and locations that is seen above in this story. A Jan. 26 pinned post on the Yellow Vest (Official) Convoy page by its initial founder, C.J. Clayton, said, “We can’t fight the Liberals and our own people. The bickering has to stop. We need to get trucks to Ottawa.”

Asked about this, Carritt said “The controversy has caused people to fall off.”

But the convoy is still rolling, nonetheless.

© Copyright Battlefords News Optimist

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