Energy Minister Sonya Savage poses in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa on May 29, 2019. Alberta’s energy minister says it’s a good time to build a pipeline because public health restrictions limit protests against them. Sonya Savage made the comment Friday in a podcast hosted by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Gathering limits make it a ‘great time to be building a pipeline:’ Alberta minister

Both Alberta and B.C. have increased their limits to 50 people for outdoor gatherings

Alberta’s energy minister says it’s a good time to build a pipeline because public health restrictions limit protests against them.

Sonya Savage made the comment Friday on a podcast hosted by the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. She was asked about progress of the Trans Mountain Expansion project, which is under construction on its route between Edmonton and Vancouver.

“Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can’t have protests of more than 15 people,” Savage said. “Let’s get it built.”

While the interviewer laughs, Savage does not.

Unprompted, Savage goes on to suggest that the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic favours pipeline construction.

“People are not going to have tolerance and patience for protests that get in the way of people working,” she said on the podcast, which was posted on the association’s website.

“People need jobs and those types of ideological protests that get in the way are not going to be tolerated by ordinary Canadians.”

Savage’s spokesman acknowledged in an email that she was on the podcast.

“We respect the right to lawful protests,” said Kavi Bal.

“I would note that the limitations to public gatherings … have benefited no one — including project proponents and any opposition groups.”

READ MORE: Trans Mountain, LNG Canada say they are on track despite pandemic

Both Alberta and B.C. have increased their limits to 50 people for outdoor gatherings.

Irfan Sabir, the Opposition New Democrat energy critic, called Savage’s comments more of the same for the government.

“These comments do not come as a shock,” he said.

“The UCP have already used the pandemic as an excuse to suspend environmental monitoring. When combined with the minister’s latest comments, this will harm the reputation of Alberta’s energy industry and inhibit our ability to attract investment and get our product to market.”

Jason Kenney’s United Conservative government has a mixed record on protesters.

The premier defended the right to protest in the case of a man recently arrested at the legislature as he was protesting against public health lockdown orders. Kenney said at the time that he would modify such orders to ensure they didn’t interfere with that right, as long as guidelines were being respected.

The government has less tolerance for civil disobedience.

In February, it introduced legislation imposing stiff fines and possible jail terms for protesters who damage or even interfere with the operation of a wide range of energy infrastructure — although such acts are already illegal. The bill has passed and awaits royal assent to come into force.

A similar bill carrying increased trespassing punishments for animal rights protesters at agricultural facilities came into force in December.

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

AlbertaPipelineprotest

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Column: Sustainable society based on foundational services

Services tied to local populations puts sustainability above growth, says columnist

Beefs & Bouquets, July 1

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Consultant presents two options for Ravensong pool expansion project in Qualicum Beach

RDN committee defers decision until more information available on Parksville pool plans

Regional District of Nanaimo wants Sandpiper water quality issues addressed quickly

Area G director Wallace says situation is ‘unacceptable’

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

RCMP arrest armed man on grounds near Trudeau residence

Officers descended on the sprawling estate Thursday morning.

Longtime Vancouver Island fishing family hooks into local market over wholesale

Locally caught fish are scarce in fishing towns, an irony one Sointula family is working to change

Undercover operation exposes prominent human trafficking problem in Greater Victoria

VicPD’s Operation No More took place in mid-June at a local hotel

Nanaimo woman sentenced to three years for trafficking heroin and fentanyl

Courtenay Cross will serve another 27 months after factoring in time already served

Nanaimo RCMP issues warning about scam phone calls

Callers claiming to be government officials convince victims to buy Bitcoin

Canada Day tractor incident kills three children, injures seven in Quebec

The tractor driver has been arrested following the accident

Victoria police investigating possible hate crime on BC Transit bus

A young Black man was randomly struck by a Caucasian man who he did not know

Most Read