Hundreds of Calgarians march for pipeline action ahead of provincial election

Hundreds of protesters marched on Calgary's City Hall on Monday to call for action on pipelines.

'Get out to vote, we need your support, because energy policy matters,' says Mark Schultz

About 500 Calgarians attended a pro-pipeline rally on Monday, one day before Alberta's election. (Mike Symington/CBC)

Hundreds of protesters marched on Calgary's City Hall on Monday, chanting "build that pipe."

One sign in the crowd read, "P. Geo For Hire: Help Me Help You Find Oil."

That sign belonged to Kenny Wallace, a professional geoscientist who was let go from his job in the summer of 2016. While he's had short stints of work since, he's still looking for something permanent.

"It's been tough. My wife and I are both geologists. We always imagined being a dual career couple," he said.

"We're doing OK … but it's been a tough hit to my ego and it's been tough on my family as well." 

Wallace said it was important for him to march to get out the message that Alberta's oil can displace more "harmful" products on the market.

"We need to stand up and be leaders, and as an industry, we need to talk about how … we're doing it better in Canada than in the other exporting countries of the world," he said.

"We're here to make the world a better place because people are better when we have more energy."

Kenny Wallace is a geologist. He said he was laid off in 2016. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The protest was held by Canada Action, a federally registered non-profit that promotes the oilsands and natural resources sector.

Calgary police estimated between 500 and 700 people were in attendance.

The group has held a number of rallies in recent months calling for action against Bills C-48 and C-69, which would, respectively, ban oil tankers from B.C.'s north coast and reform the regulatory process for major oil and gas projects.

Monday's march was advertised as being a non-partisan event, not affiliated with Yellow Vest protesters. Its goal was to empty Calgary's downtown office towers in a large show of support for the natural resource sector.

Mark Schultz, of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, asked those in the crowd to make their voices heard in Tuesday's provincial election.

"Get out to vote, we need your support, because energy policy matters," he said through a megaphone to cheers from those gathered.

Canada Action founder Cody Battershill told CBC he believes the group's message is resonating.

"We've seen a majority of premiers across the country supporting Trans Mountain [pipeline expansion] … the trend is going in the right direction."

With files from Mike Symington


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