Activists donned high-visibility yellow vests and rallied outside Saskatoon City Hall to protest against the federal government’s actions regarding a carbon tax and an international migration pact.
Inspired by the yellow-vest protesters who have taken to the streets of Paris to rally against the French government’s fuel taxation decisions, the yellow-vest-wearing group that came out in Saskatoon on Saturday morning had a similar agenda.
Demonstrations took place in Saskatoon, Regina, Calgary and Edmonton — but like their French counterparts, the protests were about more than just carbon taxes.
“We’re having policy jammed down our throat that the majority of Canadians disagree with,” organizer Tylor Engelberts said.
Besides the carbon tax, the major point of contention was the Canadian government’s recent decision to sign on to the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The idea behind the compact is that it gives all signees a structured framework for the handling of migrants coming into their respective countries.
Canada is just one of the many countries that have pledged to sign on to the compact at a United Nations conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, on Dec. 10 and 11.
The federal government has stressed that signing the compact is not legally binding and aligns with what they are already trying to do. But most critics say the compact doesn’t distinguish well enough between legal and illegal migrants, and that it infringes on Canadian sovereignty.
“People don’t understand how we got to that place … where the UN has this international law that dictates to nation-states as to how they do business,” speaker Mark Friesen said.
Friesen was particularly critical of Justin Trudeau in his speech, refusing to call him by his name while slamming his decisions on both the carbon tax and the migration compact.
He said there is a disconnect between what the public understands and what the policies will actually do, which includes negatively impacting Canada’s sovereignty in decision-making.
The compact itself states in its preamble that signing on to the framework “fosters international co-operation among all relevant actors on migration, acknowledging that no State can address migration alone, and upholds the sovereignty of States and their obligations under international law.”
Friesen said he was formerly a supporter of the Conservative Party of Canada, but has more recently found its stance unacceptable despite federal party leader Andrew Scheer also decrying the decision to sign on to the compact. He said he’s now a member of Maxime Bernier’s new People’s Party of Canada (PPC), which he feels has taken a firmer stance on some of these issues.
Ethan Erkiletian, the regional organizer for the PPC, also attended and spoke at the event. He said he was in favour of “sovereignty, over surrendering our sovereignty to a global governance organization” and referred to the carbon tax as an “absurdist policy.” Erkiletian said he expected more people to publicly oppose these policies as they became more educated about them.
“If people believe that these policies are going to be of some benefit to the economy, then in my opinion they’ve been sold a pack of lies,” he said.
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