Pro-pipeline convoys disrupt traffic in Calgary, around Alberta in tee up for Ottawa

Pro-pipeline convoys disrupt traffic in Calgary, around Alberta in tee up for Ottawa

A few dozen cars, trucks and semis disrupted traffic in Calgary on Saturday as a pro-pipeline yellow vest convoy rolled through the city.

The convoy left the Flying J truck stop in south Calgary Saturday morning, before being escorted by police up Macleod Trail and through downtown — where it briefly brought C-Train and bus service to a halt, before causing some delays in the early afternoon.

It had to split up — semis were diverged from the rest of the group as they couldn't fit under the Ninth Avenue downtown underpass at Macleod Trail — before reconvening, heading north to Deerfoot Trail and out of the city.

Trucks were decorated with signs like "build the pipelines feed the families" and protesters outside city hall waved signs like one that read "Trudeau pays the media to lie to us."

A simultaneous convoy drove from Red Deer to Sylvan Lake to call for action on pipelines, both a continuation of a movement that began in December with some held in Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, Nisku, Slave Lake and Drayton Valley.

And another convoy travelled with hundreds of trucks from Grimshaw to Peace River, with Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd taking part.

Some of the convoys were organized by Canada's yellow vests, while others have seen yellow vests in attendance. Canada's yellow vest protests have targeted a wide swath of grievances, from the Trudeau government, to the carbon tax to immigration.

Some politicians and protest groups have distanced themselves from Alberta yellow vests, which have welcomed attendees like members of anti-immigration group Soldiers of Odin.

Saturday's convoys were likely a warm-up for February, when a yellow vest convoy will head from Red Deer to Ottawa to bring the province's pipeline plight straight to lawmakers who protesters say have ignored their concerns.

In Red Deer, Glen Carritt, organizer of the planned yellow vest convoy to Ottawa, said the 500 trucks participating Saturday were just a "glimpse" of what's to come when they head east.

"We're just tired of the current government, we just want some change," he said. "We're coming to Ottawa to show [the government] they need to make changes."

Carritt says these changes include getting pipelines built, getting Alberta's oil to tidewater and eliminating the carbon tax. 

Debra Gillespie-Sweetnam attended the Red Deer rally out of concern for the "way Canada is heading," she said.

She worries the government is overspending and is concerned about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's ability to get pipelines built.

"He has the power to force this through, and he's ignored that," she said. "Canada is supported a lot … by the prosperous province of Alberta, and we are being completely ignored. People are suffering."

Gillespie-Sweetnam says she is not currently working, and her husband and son — who both work in the oil patch — are working sporadically. 

"The oil patch has literally fed and clothed my family for basically now three generations, and we're all suffering."

The yellow vests will have to share the Trans-Canada highway with another pro-pipeline convoy on its way to Ottawa next month — non-profit Canada Action, which says it wants no affiliation with the yellow vest brand.