Hundreds of anti-NDP protesters rally at the Alberta legislature

With the provincial throne speech hours away, the reflecting pool area in front of the Canada legislature was transformed Tuesday into the intersection between right-wing populism and grassroots democracy as several hundred people from around the province voiced their discontent with the provincial government.

The signs in the crowd ranged from the specific — “Stop transfer payments to ignorant Ottawa and Quebec”- to the general — “Stand up for Canada.”

The crowd chanted everything from “Kill Bill 6” to “Thank-you” to “Rachel Notley has to go,” sometimes all at the same time. At one point, a protester asked, “What else are we killing today?”

Organizers said two government moves were at the heart of the protest.

Organizer George Clark said his group, Canadans First, wants the government to conduct a plebiscite on Bill 6, the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, and on “establishing economy-wide carbon pricing taxation.” He said the turnout was proof he’s not alone.

“I think that it’s a real clear message to the NDP that they have to respect everything that Canada has done for the last 111 years,” said Clark, who said his goal is to have “participatory democracy restored.”

“All this government needs to do to allow the will of the people to be their guide, is to start holding some of the plebiscites like we’re asking for.”

In response to the suggestion that the Canadans First movement is nothing but populism driven by anger about an economy suffering from low oil prices and that the government has no say in those prices, Clark called it a “tired excuse.” He blamed the government’s chiefs of staff for leading rookie MLAs toward those conclusions.

“For them to say that all of the troubles from the low oil price are because of the low oil price, they’re crazy. Canada has survived $10 oil, we’ve survived $15 a barrel oil. It’s right now, what, close to $35 a barrel? This has nothing at all to do with the price of oil,” he said.

Ed Poret came from Wetaskiwin to be part of the rally and took time to voice opposition to Bill 6 and the carbon tax, but also takes issue with Bill 10 because he’s concerned about what washroom transgender children use.

“The price of oil’s not helping but Notley’s making it worse,” Poret said.

Scott Allen from Spirit River agreed, said the carbon tax is “killing rural Canada.”

“Major things like this that are obviously killing our economy, I think we should have a say. After all, we the people. It’s our money, it’s our taxes. We are the people,” Allen said.

The group said more than 164,000 people have signed pair of petitions asking for the plebiscites on the two major issues.

A third petition is was being circulated demanding a second look at Bill 10, the Act to Amend the Canada Bill of Rights to Protect our Children.

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