Almost five months since they first took to the streets, Yellow Vest protestors in Williams Lake are still holding weekly protests.
The Yellow Vest movement first started in France in opposition to taxes on gasoline and other governmental policies seen as anti-worker. While the sentiment of the Canadian based Yellow Vests is similar, their protests have remained largely peaceful, unlike those in France.
In Williams Lake, a group of dedicated protestors have made it their mission to raise awareness about the issues they’re concerned about every Saturday on Oliver Street, just down the hill from city hall. Their reasons for doing so are varied, but many stem from a general dislike of the current federal and provincial governments.
For the spokesman of Williams Lake’s yellow vests Tyler Hamm, a small business owner, the protest is about putting pressure on the government to change their policies. Across the group’s some 21 to 22 weekly protests, Hamm said he hasn’t missed one yet, like many of his fellow protestors.
“We’re still out here because (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau is still in power, that’s our main beef, is basically the government doing stuff we don’t approve of without asking us,” Hamm said.
This includes the controversial carbon tax, the purchase and seeming abandonment of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, the general state of Canada’s energy sector and the increase in taxes in general, Hamm said. He feels that the government has been spending Canadian’s money on things many do not want.
“We’re not out here against taxes, we are against over taxation and the misappropriation of money,” Hamm said.
While the recent election of the United Conservative Party in Alberta does give them hope, Hamm said it’s too early to tell if it will create meaningful change for their organization. Even if Trudeau loses the upcoming federal election on October 1, 2019, Hamm said he and many other Yellow Vest protestors don’t intend to stop making their voices heard.
“Just because Trudeau goes doesn’t mean we can’t keep tabs on the new guy, whoever that happens to be. I think that we need more pressure on the new guy as soon as he gets in to show him we’re not messing around that we’re serious and want to be taken seriously,” Hamm said. “My plan is to be here as long as we’re needed until we have a (federal government) that’s going to treat the West, treat Canada, not like their playground but like how they should be treating it.”
Hamm encourages the community to come to one of their protests and talk with him and his fellow picketers to learn about what their concerns and thoughts actually are. Yellow Vest protests will continue every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Olver Street for the foreseeable future.