Meet the Alberta 'roughneck' who made a moving plea on Parliament Hill in support of Canadian oil

We get the backstory on how an oil rig worker became the unofficial spokesperson for Canadian oil after delivering a moving speech on Parliament Hill this week.

Bernard Hancock speaks for oilpatch workers who 'can’t articulate what they’re feeling'

Oil rig worker, Bernard Hancock, delivers pro-oil petition to Ottawa

7 years ago
Duration 3:24
An Alberta 'roughneck' spoke on Parliament Hill on Sept. 20 in support of a petition calling on the federal government to do more for Canada's oil industry.

It's not every day that you see an oil rig worker, dressed in his hard hat and coveralls, deliver a speech on Parliament Hill.

But that's exactly what Bernard Hancock did on Tuesday in support of a petition tabled by Lakeland MP Shannon Stubbs calling on the federal government to do more to support Canada's energy industry.

The CBC video of Hancock's moving plea, which focused on the thousands who have lost their jobs because of the dropping price of oil, is going bananas on social media.

"I can't believe that people care what a guy like me gotta think. I'm just a roughneck," he told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday.

'I'm not a lobbyist. I'm a roughneck'

Hancock is adamant that he is an unofficial and unpaid spokesperson for the oilpatch, and has "taken no money" from the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) — the organization that brought him to the nation's capital this week.

There's a lot of people in the patch who don't know how to articulate what they're feeling in the way that I can, and I'm speaking up for them.- Bernard Hancock, Alberta oil rig worker

He said CAODC paid for his flight from Grande Prairie, Alta. and covered his Ottawa hotel.

"I'm taking five days off the rig to come here and do this. So I'm losing money ... If you looked at my fingernails and seen all the blood underneath my nails — you'd know I'm not a lobbyist. I'm a roughneck."

Bernard Hancock says he snapped this selfie right after 'showering in Alberta gold.' (Bernard Hancock - Roughneck/Facebook)

How did this even happen?

It all started in January, when Hancock had moved back to his hometown of Vancouver while he was between jobs.

He had some time on his hands, and decided to check out a protest that was transpiring in Burnaby, B.C. during the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings into the expansion of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline.

"There was no one supporting clean, ethical Canadian oil. They were all anti," said Hancock.

So he decided to speak up, giving a pro-oil interview to The Rebel that has been viewed close to 600,000 times on YouTube

"Ever since then people have been saying 'you gotta keep talking, you gotta keep talking.'"

The Rebel has dedicated an entire website to the roughneck, creating and selling a t-shirt with his face on it bearing the slogan "I'm With Bernard." Hancock insisted that all proceeds be donated to the charity Oil People Helping Oil People and said he has earned "zero dollars" from any interviews he's done with The Rebel. 

But his newfound fame hasn't all been sunshine and lollipops.

Hancock said he's had hate mail and been heckled.

"Twice, I've had guys jump me and try to pick a fight with me."

There were times when he wanted to quit his crusade, but then someone told him this:

"There's a lot of people in the patch who don't know how to articulate what they're feeling in the way that I can, and I'm speaking up for them."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener