The British Columbia Federation of Labour bused 1,500 protesters to the provincial Liberal's last biennial convention. But, this time around, there's just one demonstrator: cowboy-hat wearing Summerland resident Roy Roope, who has been patrolling the entrance to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre. The reason: like it says on his sign, Mr. Roope believes the toll on the Coquihalla Highway is an "Illegal Gov't Ripoff!" Explained the retiree, who was sporting a ski jacket and woolen gloves to fend of the bitter weather, "The Coquihalla toll is not fair to the Okanagan-Thompson people. It's the only toll highway in B.C. It should have been ended decades ago. It was intended to cover accelerated costs only. And that has long since been paid - long since been paid. As a matter of fact, we're at least approaching payment of the highway in full."
Asked what the reaction from Liberals has been to his protest, Mr. Roope, 69, said "Just about none. They read the sign but look away as soon as they do the take. Some are a little bit rude - middle digit, snooty comments" - including one from a party member who said all the highways in British Columbia would soon have tolls. But "most are a studied mask. They don't want to show anything. However one guy did offer to get me a cup of coffee."
But coffee or not, "as long as I can take the cold and there's people here," Mr. Roope says he'll continue his demonstration. "I'll break for lunch. But if I can take the cold I'll be here. I'll be here tomorrow too."