Representatives of the agricultural and oil industries in southeast Saskatchewan are joining forces to organize a convoy that will travel up Highway 39 and 6 to Regina on Thursday, April 4, to meet for a rally against the federal carbon tax.
Some of the details of the convoy and the rally are still being finalized, such as the timing and exact routing of the convoy, as the organizers have been meeting with the RCMP and police forces in Estevan, Weyburn and Regina to ensure the event will be safe and will not jeopardize anyone or hinder traffic.
Organizers have pinpointed four points the rally will be focusing on, including the carbon tax, the lack of pipelines, and opposition to Bill C-69 and Bill C-48, both federal bills that will greatly hurt the oil industry.
Blair Stewart, owner of Stewart Southern Railway and Fill-More Seeds, both headquartered in Fillmore, pointed out that the carbon tax will impact everyone, no matter what walk of life they have, and pointed out that Bill C-48 is designed to keep oil tankers away from the West Coast, while the government and protesters say nothing whatsoever about foreign oil coming in on the East Coast.
“We live in a land-locked province and have to ship our oil, yet they have banned the export of oil to the West Coast, yet they can come in on the East Coast. We all know what the problem is,” said Stewart. “Do you ever see people protest oil coming in on the East Coast?”
He was a guest with radio host John Gormley on the rally, where he pointed out the rally is also in support of Premier Scott Moe and the province’s fight against the carbon tax.
Stewart pointed out that because the carbon tax will be applied to transportation costs, everything that has ever been trucked or shipped by rail will be impacted by the carbon tax, and that affects every person no matter what job they have or where they live.
Marcel Van Staveren, a farmer in the Creelman area, noted in regard to the carbon tax that “we are not the problem”, pointing out that research shows that farmers have been sequestering more and more carbon dioxide in the soil rather than emitting the greenhouse gas.
“We have a thin profit margin business,” he said, noting that estimates put the cost of the carbon tax on farmers around $6 to $8 an acre for grain farmers in the first year.
“And nobody knows where it’s going,” added farmer Jason LeBlanc from Estevan, who is also helping to organize the rally. He pointed out that for every 100 tonnes of carbon dioxide they put into the atmosphere, they take out 150 tonnes, as it goes into the ground, into the hay and water and other aspects of a farm operation.
“We can do better, and we are. We have reversed the loss of soil organic matter and we’re starting to rebuild, to get better,” said Van Staveren.
The producers pointed out also that a carbon tax has been tried in other countries and failed, such as in Australia.
As for the oil industry, Josh Mainil pointed out that Canada has the highest environmental standards of any country and stringent workplace safety regulations, which begs the question why Canada is accessing oil from countries like Saudi Arabia that have far lower environmental standards.
Meantime, the federal government is ignoring other good things contributed by Saskatchewan, such as a world-class carbon capture and storage project in Estevan, and due to federal regulations, will be shutting down as it’s connected to the coal-fired power generation plant.
The organizers are lining up around five to seven major speakers who will address the rally in Regina, which will be held indoors on the exhibition grounds.
The organizers are asking that supporters of the Yellow Vests not attend the rally, as this rally is not associated with those supporters in any way.
“If you have a yellow vest, we ask that you leave them at home,” said Stewart, who noted that Yellow Vest protesters stand for a much wider range of issues than the rally group does, and those issues are not a part of this protest.
The group is hoping for hundreds of trucks to join the convoy, and are hoping to be joined by contingents from the Swift Current and Yorkton areas once they reach Regina.
“This could be huge. It’s a completely made-in-Saskatchewan rally,” said Stewart.
The organizers have set up a web page and social media accounts, and are encouraging supporters to submit videos to their Facebook page or to twitter, @againsttax, and for those who will be joining the convoy into Regina, they would like people to register so they can in turn inform the police agencies of what kind of traffic to expect.
To register for the convoy, phone 306-634-9955, or call or text to 306-421-9847. Also people can visit the website to register, at www.reginarallyagainstthecarbontax.ca.