Police prevent traffic disruptions on Highway 1 on day 2 of carbon tax demonstrations

Day two of the carbon tax protest west of Calgary saw anywhere from 100 to 150 people. Jillian Code reports that despite the frustration, people have been using the situation as an unofficial 'family gathering'.

Police did not allow protesters onto the highway or permitted any disruptions to traffic during the second day of anti-carbon tax rallies west of Calgary.

“The intention is to stay until they end the carbon tax,” protester Judy Martens said Tuesday. “I packed for three weeks.”

Up to 150 people returned to Highway 1 south of Cochrane for the second straight day, but they were met with nearly the same amount of RCMP officers.

Campers could be seen scattered throughout the area, and many told CityNews they intend to stat as long as they can, describing the gathering as “a family reunion.”

“Talking to the people that have showed up, they’re worried about losing their farms, or how they are going to feed their kids,” says Martens.

Drivers travelling westbound on the highway were being warned of possible delays once again on Tuesday, despite RCMP saying they were on scene and wouldn’t allow people onto the roadway.

“Our approach right now is to identify if there is an issue, to provide warning and education,” says Sgt. Josh Argue. “The next step would then be enforcement.”

Significant delays were felt for much of the day Monday, due to a group of approximately 50 vehicles protesting the increase to the federal carbon tax which — along with Alberta’s provincial gas tax — went up on April 1.

Protesters started to gather at a Petro Canada gas station near the interchange of Highway 1 and Highway 22 around 8 a.m. Monday before moving down the route.

RCMP eventually closed the highway and started to divert westbound traffic onto the Highway 22 off-ramp, before reopening the road at 6:30 p.m.

However, while on location on Monday, some protesters told CityNews of their intention to return for another rally the next day.

The event, organized by a group called Nationwide Protest Against Carbon Tax, was just one of many taking place across the country Monday.

The federal carbon tax increased by 3.3 cents to 17.6 cents a litre, or 24 per cent. Alberta’s own provincial fuel tax also pushed the cost per litre from nine cents to 13 cents.

“I’m here because our country is falling apart and our government has been running us into the ground and it just needs to stop,” protester and military veteran Gary Lambert, who is from Innisfail, told The Canadian Press.

“It’s not just about ‘axe the tax.’ It’s about the freedoms. It’s about our right to free speech.”

Lambert said he’s upset about both federal and provincial tax hikes.

Premier weighs in on highway protests

Premier Danielle Smith weighed in on the highway protests on Tuesday.

“I don’t endorse it when left wing activists want to block bridges and roads, and I don’t endorse it when people who are opposing carbon taxes also want to block bridges and roads,” she said.

RCMP say protesting on a public highway isn’t safe, especially in light of an accident involving multiple vehicles during one of Monday’s demonstrations in the Crowsnest Pass region.

While travelling to a protest site Monday, police say five large farm tractors caused a multi-vehicle collision.

The tractors “refused to stop for police when a traffic stop was attempted,” police say, adding the investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Police are also reminding Albertans it is illegal for a vehicle to park or be stationary on a highway unless the vehicle isn’t able to move using its own power, an emergency happens, or it is stopped under the director of a peace officer or traffic control device.

For the latest on this developing story, including updates on traffic, listen to CityNews660.

A previous version of this story indicated the multi-vehicle accident occurred on Highway 1 when it occurred in the Crowsnest Pass. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information.

-With files from Jillian Code and The Canadian Press

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