'Yellow Vest' protests held in the Maritimes
Published Saturday, December 15, 2018 6:16PM AST
A growing political movement jumped the Atlantic and reached the Maritimes Saturday, with protests being held in several cities.
The ‘yellow vest’ protest that began in France has made its way over to Canada, as smaller-scale demonstrations were held in dozens of cities across the country, in an effort to show solidarity with the French protestors.
In Halifax, a small but vocal group of demonstrators clad in reflective yellow vests met outside of Halifax City Hall, calling on all levels of government to listen to their concerns. The issues they were protesting are wide ranging, from the carbon tax, to the signing of a UN Migration Pact.
“The carbon tax thing, ‘Canadians want this’, I have never met even one Canadian that understands how a carbon tax is going to reduce carbon emissions,” says protestor James Hoskins.
“The fact that the past summer, you had to sign off on the policies of the liberal government to get summer grants, to me this is oppression of Canadians by our own people,” says protestor Barry Ahern.
But the main focus of Saturday’s protest was immigration. Protestors say their concerns stem from the signing of the ‘Global Compact for Migration’ in Morocco last week.
Canada, along with 164 other nations signed the pact. Demonstrators say it will open Canadian borders, and cause negative consequences. Several countries, including the United States, did not sign the agreement.
“We don’t need mass immigration, and we don’t want mass immigration, it’s dangerous”, said Diana Bessette, who was part of a small group of yellow vest protestors that gathered in front of Moncton’s City Hall.
However, the migration pact is not legally binding, and Canada has yet to agree to change any of its immigration laws.
In Halifax, social activist Rana Zaman says that when some protestors talk about migrants, they are talking about a specific kind.
“Somehow immigration automatically too many equals Muslims,” explained Zaman.
Zaman attended Saturday’s protest in Halifax, looking to understand and discuss the group’s concerns, and says many of the protestors made a point to question her about Islam.
“Is this about Sharia law, or is this about the poor people fighting the government to get their needs addressed?” questioned Zaman. “People are drowning in poverty, we are not taking care of our veterans, our seniors are not being respected, they are dying in hallways, our healthcare is suffering, people are waiting years and years for surgery. That’s what I want to fight for.”
But some protestors say regardless of the specific issue they’re fighting for, those in power aren’t listening.
“This is not exclusive to our current government, this is something that’s been happening for decades,” says James Hoskins. “Regardless if it’s a conservative power or a liberal power, the people are still not being heard.
The yellow vest demonstrations against the government of Emmanuel Macron have been sweeping France for more than a month, with riots in the streets claiming the lives of at least seven people.
Protestors in Halifax said they will plan to gather again next Saturday, and every Saturday until they see changes, or at least get answers, from the federal government.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Emily Baron Cadloff.