CALGARY – Angry protesters demanding that Canada build new pipelines interrupted speeches by Calgary’s mayor and councillors at a downtown rally on Monday.
City council had passed a resolution declaring its support for the oil and gas industry as well as calling for solutions to a low oil price crisis blamed on a lack of pipeline export capacity.
But loud boos rose from the protesters at any mention of Quebec or free trade.
Rally organizer Cody Battershill of Canada Action stepped up to ask the crowd of about 1,000 to stop shouting when Mayor Naheed Nenshi began to speak in French — a message the mayor said was aimed at the people of Quebec.
“It’s important to remember that standing up for Canadian energy doesn’t mean we don’t believe in and care about climate change,” said Nenshi to shouts and boos.
“For those of you saying, ‘No, I don’t believe in climate change,’ good luck changing any hearts and minds, because we have to be able to say there’s no difference between standing up for the economy and standing up for the environment.
“We can do both and that’s what people in the oil and gas sector do every single day.”
A volley of boos also rang out when Coun. Peter Demong pointed out that Quebec City council supports pipeline construction and, therefore, Calgary residents should buy Canadian cheese, not take part in trade boycotts.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault recently said that there was “no social acceptability” in his province for a “dirty energy” pipeline from Alberta.
“We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot as Canadians and we have to start supporting our energy sector, the foundation of our economy,” said Battershill.
Tim Vader, who said he is an under-employed well-site geologist, said he attended the rally to protest and send a message to Ottawa.
“We’ve had enough of the globalist elite determining how the rest of the world and average Canadians are going to live,” he said. “I’m tired of it.”
There was a scattering of yellow construction vests in the crowd, but none of the people interviewed said they are associated with the anti-United-Nations Yellow Vest Canada group that held rallies in Calgary and other cities across Canada on Sunday.
Vader, who was wearing a vest, said he identifies with vest-wearing French workers in Europe who have been recently staging sometimes-violent protests against their government.
There have been a number of protests aimed at heading off federal actions expected to make building pipelines more difficult. They include Bill C-69 to revamp the National Energy Board and Bill C-48 which would ban oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s northern coast.
The anger expressed at the rally didn’t surprise Alberta Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd, who said she agrees with Nenshi’s message of educating the rest of Canada to win support for the oil industry.
“People are angry, you know. It’s an industry we hold so important and it is somewhat hurtful when people don’t appreciate it,” she said after the rally.
“When we’re divisive, we’re not going to get anywhere … we need to work together on this and let’s be more Canadian about it.”
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