Bussed in from various parts of Alberta, the mostly white, rural protesters rallied against NDP policies such as the recently-passed Bill 6, concerning farm safety, and the forthcoming carbon tax. Bill 10, which allows gay-straight alliances started by any student in any Alberta school, also came under fire, and was often discussed in tandem with current debates concerning gender-neutral washrooms to protect transgender students from harassment.
Lack of jobs, reduced pay, and increased taxes in the face of falling oil prices were also concerns of many in the anti-NDP crowd led by George Clark, who started the group Albertans First. Clark, who identifies as Metis, is seen as a leader among the anti-NDP movement. Stand Up for Alberta is a similar group, which also had representatives at the protest. The protest was termed by some as the “Kudatah,” stemming from a misspelling on social media of coup d’etat, which refers to the overthrowing of the government.
Many of the protesters were armed with petitions and plebiscites on a variety of issues. At the same time, the anti-NDP movement has come under fire for threats against Premier Rachel Notley posted on social media. This protest saw some angry messages on signs and placards, most notably one which included a swastika and the words “NDP Final Solution,” equating Bill 6 to the Holocaust.
A few dozen pro-NDP supporters also gathered on the Legislature grounds. Dubbed the “Cruedatah,” a play on the “kudatah” theme and the “Notley Crue” slogan which was popular during the time leading up to the May 2015 election, the group also sported orange t-shirts saying, “I signed the petition on May 5” (which was election day).
March 8, in addition to being International Women’s Day, was also the opening of the spring session for the Legislature, with the throne speech. In it, Premier Notley said the Province will works towards diversifying the economy, move forward on the carbon tax, get tough on payday loan operators, and provide $340 million in tax benefits to needy families.