Canada’s Yellow Vests movement is here, and it appears that it will be around for the foreseeable future.
Directly inspired by the Yellow Vests movements ignited throughout France, Canada’s Yellow Vest movement is uniting groups of citizens throughout our nation.
Canadians taking issue with pipeline delays, the UN migration pact, the carbon tax, and general government overreach have now been organizing and protesting for weeks throughout Canada.
But unlike the yellow vest movements in France (that at its highest inspired 50,000 citizens to hit the streets in protest) Canada’s yellow vest movement is bringing out people by the hundreds, not the tens of thousands.
It has become seemingly harder and harder to gauge the intent of Canada’s yellow vest protests, at least from the outside.
The Edmonton Star, the Toronto Star, and other Canadian news organizations have implied that the Yellow Vest movements are accepting of xenophobic, islamophobic, and other intolerant views.
Of course, actual Canadian Yellow Vesters and the Facebook pages of the Edmonton and Calgary Yellow Vests share videos disputing this, saying that these claims are biased, and that the claims come from those who are trying to delegitimize the movement.
Not unlike other legitimate right of center political movements or figures, though, it’s seemingly undeniable that the Yellow Vest movement of Canada is being embraced by at least some far-right groups. Groups that the majority of yellow vesters want nothing to do with. An almost uavoidable problem where fringe groups latch on to, support, and can even potentially highjack well intentioned grassroots movements.
These types of issues have hindered the legitimacy of the yellow vest movement. The claims of fraudulent actions against some of the organizers of the rallies have come to light, notably, those of CJ Clayton.
Clayton, who has organized numerous events, is on the receiving end of allegations that claim he has received $60,000 from GoFundMe donations, defrauding people.
Those accusing Clayton are also pointing out that the funds that were supposed to be collected for a pro-pipeline rally, are instead being used to organize far-right and alt-right rallies.
Even within ideological allies, there is serious division between those who wish to see similar results.
Cody Battershill, the organizer of a pro-pipeline group, does not want to be associated with similar organizations that associate themselves with the yellow vest movement.
“If they are yellow vest, we will not be doing anything with them and I’ve made that clear to them,” says Battershill, adding that some of the yellow vests carry “very extreme opinions.”
What’s absolutely clear is that the Canadian movement is not collecting the same head of steam as our European friends, nor is it uniting the people as the yellow vests had hoped.
But why? Why hasn’t the yellow vest movement of Canada caught the same momentum as it did in France? Surely, there are enough issues across the political board that Canadians can rally against.
The issues that our home-brewed movement tackles seem to be more aligned with issues that the right-wing take to heart. Strong borders, healthy vetting processes, economic strength through oil, and lowering taxes on the working class.
The idea of having strong borders has increasingly been associated with right of center politics, despite that even as recently as 2011, former president Barack Obama has shown sentiment of a strong border being an important building block of having a prosperous nation. A sentiment that President Trump says he “strongly agrees” with.
Of course, economic strength through oil is something those on the left adamantly want less and less to do with. This is evidently clear through the plethora of anti-pipeline demonstrations that have become commonplace throughout Alberta and other provinces.
Though there is no shortage of young people supporting the yellow vest movement of Canada, it appears as though the spirit of discontentment of young Canadians is mainly being expressed through other groups.
Antifa, the self proclaimed anti-fascist group that uses direct action against those they deem far-right through a variety of tactics up to and including physical violence, seemingly has captured the minds and hearts of the young and angry in a way that the yellow vests of Canada could not.
Although the issues that yellow vesters are protesting for do affect all Canadians, the young, outraged masses have already found a home in the antifa movement.
The two movements appear to have similar intentions within their mission.
Both believe they are fighting the good fight against an overreaching government, in a world where government tyranny is becoming normalized.
Although people have similar feelings about the government, feelings of general discontent, there is never consensus as to who is oppressing who. People separate into the tribe that best suit their beliefs, but no one feels like their team is winning.
It’s also without surprise that yellow vest movement within our nation is being labeled as racist, or at the very least tolerant of intolerance. It has become increasingly difficult in today’s echo-chamber heavy news world to be anti-open border, anti-carbon tax, and pro-national identity without having fingers pointed at you.
These accusations are generally dangerous. Even a baseless claim of racism can delegitimize a movement to those who don’t read past a headline. These grassroots political movements show what we all know: People are unhappy, and want their voice to be heard.
The movement is admirable. The movement has a purpose. But the message isn’t coming across well, and isn’t resonating with the masses in the same way that it has in other countries that are discontent with their government. Why do you think that is? Let us know.