Calgary

Calgary councillors, plus the mayor, film videos promoting pro-pipeline rally

It's not often all 14 members of Calgary's city council, plus the mayor, agree on something. But Coun. Ward Sutherland said he and his colleagues have found common ground, spending part of their office budgets on a pro-pipeline rally and filming videos to promote the same message.

Councillors spent office budget money to make videos with former communications chair for UCP

Pro-pipeline protesters hold Canada Action signs outside a venue where Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau was speaking on Nov. 27. On Monday, Calgary's mayor and members of city council will be speaking at at pro-pipeline rally organized by the group. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

It's not often all 14 members of Calgary's city council, plus the mayor, agree on something.

But Coun. Ward Sutherland said he and his colleagues have found common ground, spending part of their office budgets on a pro-pipeline rally and filming videos to promote the same message.

"It shows you know that we all care. We want to put Calgary first and this is totally non-partisan," Sutherland said on Sunday evening.

"These are federal and provincial issues, but it directly affects the city."

Sutherland said every councillor spent a little under $500 of their office budgets to pay an outside firm to make the videos which are being released by Canada Action Coalition, a federally registered non-profit that promotes the oilsands and natural resource sector.

The videos, which can be seen on Canada Action's social media pages, feature councillors reciting positive facts about the oil industry.

The mayor and some councillors will also be in attendance at Canada Action's pro-pipeline rally outside the municipal building in Calgary at noon Monday.

Sutherland said he sees the city's role as advocating for pipelines to be built.

"We're finding a lot of people are just misinformed, and there are a lot of people that are in favour of it but are afraid to say so," he said.

'There's nothing wrong with our oil'

Coun. Shane Keating agrees.

"We have to realize that there are certain limitations to what the City of Calgary can actually do. This is one thing we can do quite publicly and quite loudly is support our oil and gas sector with this rally," he said.

"I don't think we have the pocketbooks to be able to spend an awful lot of money on this as a PR campaign … but we can stand out here and say there's nothing wrong with our oil. There's nothing wrong with pipeline extensions, and we should be supporting it across the country."

Canada Action has held a number of demonstrations in Calgary this year calling for pipelines to be built, with some drawing hundreds of supporters.

The group was one of the organizers behind Grande Prairie's massive pro-oilpatch rally Sunday, which drew a crowd of more than 1,500.

Sonia Kont, a senior consultant at PR firm New West Public Affairs, said she coordinated with city council and Canada Action to create the videos.

She said despite her work as communications chair for the UCP, Monday's rally will be a non-partisan one.

"I don't hide the fact that I am more conservative than most and I have always been a part of Jason Kenney's team and part of the UCP. But I think it's really great that we can have a council, 14 of them and the mayor, get behind something so important … We may not be united on taxes or other policies or the Olympics, but we're definitely as a province and as a city united on the energy sector," she said. 

While Canada Action helped organize the Grande Prairie rally, it was cautious on the Facebook page for Monday's event to differentiate itself from yellow vest rallies held across Alberta on the weekend. 

The rallies, unlike the French protests against wealth inequality that inspired the movement, have focused on calls to end the carbon tax, as well as pro-pipeline and anti-immigration messaging.

"No yellow vests please. That's not what we are promoting!" wrote Canada Action in a Facebook post about Monday's rally.

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