Estevan MLA Lori Carr is defending her decision to be at a Yellow Vest Movement protest on Jan. 19 in front of City Hall.
The protests have been happening at City Hall every Saturday since Dec. 15 of last year. Carr attended a protest for the first time on Jan. 19, and said she was there on her own accord.
A photograph and a brief article were posted that day to the Mercury’s website of Carr with two protesters, but it took until Thursday for the article to gain the attention of the opposition New Democratic Party. It was retweeted by Regina Douglas Park MLA Nicole Sarauer, who questioned why Carr was there.
Sarauer also retweeted out a photo of Yorkton MLA Greg Ottenbreit at a Yorkton protest. Carr and Ottenbreit were targeted because they are provincial cabinet ministers; Carr is the highways and infrastructure minister.
Carr said she was doing her job by engaging with people and listening to their concerns during the protest. She pointed out the protests have been resonating with people who live in the Estevan constituency.
“There has been a rising sentiment of frustration and disappointment right across Western Canada relating to the harmful policies of the federal government, and that sentiment has been qualified by recent polling that’s been conducted by Angus Reid and widely reported by the media,” Carr told the Mercury.
She said the polling suggests the majority of Canadians agree that a lack of pipeline capacity is a “national crisis,” and that Western Canadians feel like they’re giving far more to the federal government than they receive.
The Yellow Vest Movement in Western Canada has been particularly vocal about the proposed federal carbon tax, which Carr said would kill jobs; the lack of pipelines to get Western Canadian oil to market; and the Bill C-69 legislation that she believes would make future infrastructure projects like pipelines impossible to approve.
Carr pointed out that NDP Leader Ryan Meili has voiced support for a carbon tax in the past, and has attended anti-pipeline rallies where there were calls to keep the oil in the ground.
“That’s in direct contrast to what our government and our MLAs and thousands of Canadians are doing who are attending rallies like this to advocate for the end of these harmful policies, to support the Canadian energy industry and its workers and their families,” said Carr.
She was surprised when the opposition targeted her for attended a yellow vest protest.
As for the opposition to illegal immigration and the United Nations’ Migration Pact expressed by some in the Yellow Vest Movement, Carr said those have been contentious issues. But she also said that she, and the governing Saskatchewan Party, do not condone any anti-immigration positions that some in the Yellow Vests movement have been advancing.
“When you get a group this big, there’s not always consistent messaging, but around the pipelines and around the carbon tax, it’s a very clear message,” she said.
Newcomers from around the world have made a positive impact on the province’s economy, she said.
Most of the conversations when she was at the protest were on energy-related policies rather than immigration.
Carr isn’t the first local politician to attend a Yellow Vest protest. Souris-Moose Mountain MP Robert Kitchen attended a rally in front of city hall two weeks earlier, and was also part of the truck convoy that rolled through Estevan on Dec. 22.