Burnaby counter-protesters confront yellow vests at city hall

Chris Campbell

Chants of “no one is illegal” were heard on the grounds outside Burnaby city hall on Saturday as a counter-protest was held to disrupt a rally organized by Canada’s yellow vest movement.

The NOW’s Jennifer Gauthier was on hand to cover the event and she reports that the yellow vests were outnumbered by the counter-protesters by a wide margin. No more than four yellow vests showed up at any given time during the rally, although with that small a turnout, I’m not sure you can really call it a “rally.”

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The yellow vest movement has been criticized for its views, especially regarding immigration.

Things got heated at times, according to Gauthier, with some people getting up close and personal, but the situation remained peaceful.

Both sides used megaphones to get their messages out.

The National Citizens Alliance had its Burnaby South federal byelection candidate, Zachary Johnson, on hand. He told the crowd his group isn’t anti-immigrant and that they were simply proud Canadians who are against such things as “illegal” immigration and the carbon tax.

 The crowd wasn’t buying it. Many started chanting, “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here.”

One woman, Michelle Cole, took off her yellow vest and told the NOW that the crowd “wasn’t interested in a dialogue,” adding that she is against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s carbon tax.

“I just want my children to be able to afford a home,” Cole said.

On hand for the counter-protest was Burnaby’s Alan Dutton, who leads the Canadian Anti-Racism Education and Research Society.

Dutton is an expert on extremist groups and he said he is disturbed by people’s support of the yellow vest movement.

“We’ve got these people who are falling prey to this far-right ideology thinking it’s mainstream and it’s not,” Dutton said. “It’s hateful, it’s mean and it’s hurting the country.”

A yellow vest member asked Dutton if he wants his grandchildren to be able to afford a home and Dutton responded that while there is a housing crisis, people need to be mindful of the dangerous impact of blaming one ethnic group for it.

“Blaming immigrants is not the answer.”

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