In passing Herb Gardner Park these past few weeks, it is not hard to miss the yellow vests (YV) and the signage arrayed along Oliver Street once per week. According to the 20 April 2019 article in the Williams Lake Tribune, the yellow vests are “a group of dedicated protesters [who] have made it their mission to raise awareness about the issues they’re concerned about.” Raising awareness, or contextualizing, is one thing, but building strawmen fallacies is another.
One topic that comes up in their signage is carbon pricing but that does not make sense, especially when the federal carbon tax is a revenue neutral tax with corresponding rebates.
One would think there would be better things to protest than zero sum fiscal policies, especially when many economists like Mark Jaccard and Christopher Ragan have shown that carbon pricing is one of the most effective methods for reducing jurisdictional GHG emissions. Regardless, it is worth pointing out that the YV have proposed no meaningful policy solutions to combating climate change.
Complaining for the sake of complaining has extremely limited value.
Furthermore, the YV opposition to the United Nations Global Compact for Migration is rooted in an unsubstantiated fear of losing control of borders. The UN is not supplanting Canadian sovereignty. That is not how international law works. As stated by the UN, the Compact “is non-legally binding.
It is grounded in values of state sovereignty, responsibility-sharing, non-discrimination, and human rights, and recognizes that a cooperative approach is needed to optimize the overall benefits of migration, while addressing its risks and challenges for individuals and communities in countries of origin, transit and destination.” That is explicitly not infringing on Canadian sovereignty.
In fact, the UN was formed in the interests of preventing the rise of supranational entities which infringed on other states’ sovereignties.
The YV movement also has deeply problematic components. It has been well documented that Yellow Vests Canada has deep ties to transphobic, homophobic, and racist movements, according to the independent nonprofit Canadian Anti-Hate Network (CAHN). CAHN and the Yellow Vests Exposed network have documented dozens, if not hundreds, of examples of toxic discourse from the YV movement directed at marginalized groups. As reported by CBC-Edmonton reporter Elizabeth Hames in January 2019, YV ties to Nazi groups across the country like the Wolves of Odin and the Proud Boys are troubling to say the least.
These ties compromise any claims to inclusivity. Furthermore, the presence of spin-off red MAGA hats at these protests harkens back to Trumpian imagery. These less-than-subtle references to a contemporary American administration which peddles fascistic rhetoric are at best misplaced, if not outright disturbing.
Essentially, these protests are less about raising awareness and more about promoting baseless partisan ideology all the while misrepresenting the facts. It is mythologizing, not contextualizing.