'We will not stop': Truck convoy, rally in Nisku show support for oil and gas industry
'Give a province $1.6 billion and you might feed them for a couple weeks,' Andrew Scheer tells crowd
More than 1,000 Alberta truckers rolled through the streets of Nisku, Alta., in a convoy Wednesday to show support for the oil and gas industry.
The convoy caused traffic delays throughout Nisku and the neighbouring Leduc Business Park, RCMP said in a news release.
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There were also "extreme traffic delays" on the Highway 19 and Airport Road overpasses at the QEII, police said.
"I want to see the pipeline go through," said Mike Semeniuk who came from Hinton, Alta., with Mackenzie Rogers to take part in the convoy.
The two work in the oil and gas industry.
The federal government needs to "listen up" and get the message to move ahead with the pipeline, Rogers said.
"This is our livelihood," he said. "Work is slower. Everybody's affected, it's not only oil and gas."
The convoy coincided with a meeting hosted by federal Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer, whose appearance was delayed by the convoy.
"We had to walk over the overpass because the convoy was so long and so big," Scheer said during his scheduled speech at Ensign Drilling in Nisku. "I'm not going to lie to you, it was emotional.
"We're here today to send a very clear message. The Conservative Party is fighting for you."
Scheer told the crowd the $1.6-billion in financial aid for the energy industry the Liberal government announced this week won't help put people back to work.
"All it will take is for government to get out of the way of what hard-working Albertans have wanted to do for generations."
'Kicked in the gut'
In a campaign-style speech, Scheer said his government would fight to get Alberta workers back on the job, but a conservative strategy would not include government-aid packages.
"We've had slumps before," he said. "But what really hurts, what really feels like we're getting kicked in the gut and stomped on when we're down, is when it's our own government that is putting those roadblocks in our way and pulling the rug out from under us."
Scheer said the Trudeau government's aid package to support the province's ailing energy sector was not well received by most Albertans.
"In typical Alberta fashion, the message sent back to Ottawa [was] loud and clear, 'We don't need handouts, we just want to get back to work.' And what a great message.
"Give a province $1.6 billion and you might feed them for a couple weeks, but let them build a pipeline to get our energy to market and you can feed them for a generation."
The Conservative leader said if his party forms government it would stop the carbon tax and bring in legislation that better recognizes that major energy projects, such as pipelines, are in the national interest.
Scheer said he would also support legislation that further limits which individuals and groups are given standing in regulatory review hearings. Current legislation allows "literally anybody" to present, he said.
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Mark Schultz with the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors said Alberta workers who have struggled through a downturn are growing desperate.
Wednesday's convoy was a call for help, Schultz said.
'We need leadership'
"Today, as you saw in the background here in those wonderful horns, is a cry out to the federal government to take action," he said. "We need leadership in this country. We will not stop until we get this industry back online."
Nisku is an industrial park in Leduc County, about 25 kilometres south of downtown Edmonton. It's home to many manufacturing and services companies with ties to the oil and gas industry.
Truckers for Pipelines is organizing a convoy that will take vehicles to that meeting and is encouraging trucks of all shapes and sizes to "come out to show support for the Canadian oil and gas industry and Canadian families from coast to coast."
Organizers are expecting hundreds of vehicles from central Alberta and the Edmonton area to be part of the event.
About 150 trucks have left Drayton Valley, Alta., to join the convoy in Nisku, Tom Hinderks, volunteer media coordinator with Rally Canada, said Wednesday. He later said the Nisku rally had attracted 1,400 heavy trucks.
"We have an industry in crisis" and pipelines need to be built in order to get people back to work, Hinderks said.
"The [federal] government has the constitutional power and the legislative authority to make this move forward," he said.
Once construction begins, confidence in the market will grow, he added.
"This is a Canadian priority. There are Canadian families from coast to coast that are tied one way or the other to the oil and gas industry that are getting hurt," Hinderks said.
A similar rally in Grande Prairie on Sunday attracted about 1,500 people and a convoy of more than 600 vehicles.
A second town hall session with Scheer is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Edmonton Inn.