Calgary

Pro-pipeline protesters boo Nenshi at mentions of Quebec, climate change during Calgary rally

An estimated crowd of 2,700 packed into Calgary's Municipal Plaza on Monday for a noon rally to show support for Canada's beleaguered oil industry.

Crowd vocal at times, chanting slogans like 'build that pipe' and 'build our future'

An estimated crowd of 2,700 packed into Calgary's Municipal Plaza on Monday. Many of the demonstrators oppose Bill C-69, a federal proposal to overhaul how energy projects are approved in this country. (Mike Symington/CBC)

An estimated crowd of 2,700 packed into Calgary's Municipal Plaza on Monday, interrupting speeches by members of Calgary's city council with shouts and boos, at a noon rally to show support for Canada's beleaguered oil industry.

Rally organizer Cody Battershill of Canada Action stepped up to ask the crowd 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 jeers from the vocal crowd. 

"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."

Protesters chanted slogans like "Build that pipe," and "Build our future."

Some in the crowd carried placards imploring the federal government to construct a pipeline to get Canadian oil products to tidewater. 

Earlier in the day, city council unanimously passed a motion declaring the price differential for Canadian crude oil to be a local, regional and national crisis.

Councillors and the mayor outlined the important role the city plays in the provincial and national economies.

"We have a role to play, we can advocate and we can educate," said Coun. Ward Sutherland.

"The province and the feds, they decide a lot of policies, but we can be vocal."

Some people in the crowd carried placards imploring the federal government to construct a pipeline to get Canadian oil products to tidewater. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The motion also declares the city supports the construction of new pipelines to take Alberta's energy resources to market.

"I need you to know the City of Calgary has always been one of the strongest advocates in the world for Canadian energy and we will continue to be that advocate every single day," said Nenshi.

"And fundamentally, you can't have a strong Canadian economy if you don't have a strong Alberta economy. And you can't have a strong Alberta economy if you don't have a strong Calgary economy."

Members of council also spent part of their office budgets to film videos last week promoting the same message.

"If we hope to shift the conversation around Canada's oil and gas industry, and if we really want to deliver an evidence-based message around the value of this country's socially responsible energy production, we have to engage with people and organizations who are diverse, and often these are people that are different than those we are most comfortable with," said Coun. Jyoti Gondek.

"We have to stand together and advance our common cause, and that cause is simple: Canada's energy industry is socially responsible and we need to defend it."

The rally was organized by Canada Action, described online as "a volunteer-created grassroots movement encouraging Canadians to take action and work together in support of our vital natural resources sector."

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.

A similar rally in Grande Prairie on Sunday drew an estimated crowd of 1,500, including a convoy of 600 vehicles.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi told the demonstrators: 'You can't have a strong Canadian economy if you don't have a strong Alberta economy. And you can't have a strong Alberta economy if you don't have a strong Calgary economy.' (Mike Symington/CBC)

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 Yellow Vest Canada group that held rallies in Calgary and other cities across Canada on Sunday.

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.

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.

'The people in Central Canada and Eastern Canada, they're starting to get the message,' said Tony Smith, who retired in April after a 40-year career in oil and gas. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Tony Smith retired in April after a 40-year career in oil and gas and said he went to the Calgary rally to simply show support.

"The people in Central Canada and Eastern Canada, they're starting to get the message but it's only been, probably, in the last two months," he said.

"It's starting to pick up momentum, so that's encouraging."

With files from The Canadian Press

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.