Moosomin, Sask., on Saturday morning, Feb. 16, became the heart of Canada for the growing protest against what many view as crippling policies that are holding back Canada’s oil and gas sector, harming a wide swath of jobs, from everyday oil industry, pipeline building and the service sectors within communities.
In a new assembly plant, the IJack Technologies building, about 700 people from Saskatchewan along with some Manitobans gathered, many wearing t-shirts saying “I (heart) (maple leaf) oil & gas”. The back of the shirt said, “The world needs Canadian oil”.
Conservative Party and Official Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer, Saskatchewan Senator Denise Batters, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs headlined a group of about 10 speakers at the rally, which supported the construction of Canadian oil pipelines, including the currently dormant Energy East project.
From Manitoba, Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade Blaine Pedersen, and MP Larry Maguire addressed the crowd. MLAs Doyle Piwniuk and Greg Nesbitt sat in the crowd.
The rally focused on the impact federal government legislation has had on Western Canada’s resource sector and its broad effect on other industries and residents living in the rest of the country.
Many speakers spoke against both the carbon tax and Bill C-69, which proposes a more stringent process for assessing the environmental, health, social and economic effects of oil, pipeline and other resource-related projects.
“I know that Canadians are paying for Justin Trudeau’s mistakes,” Scheer told the audience.
“His attack on Canada’s energy sector is by design. It’s on purpose. This is the one area where he’s doing exactly what he said he would do.”
Considering their impact on the social and economic interests of citizens across Canada, Scheer suggested that pipelines like the Trans-Mountain and Energy East projects should be considered a matter of national interest.
“I will travel around the world promoting the Canadian energy sector as a source of ethical, responsible and sustainable energy,” he said.
EAST COAST PREMIER
Higgs, the minority-government premier of New Brunswick, said provinces across the country are beginning to see the detriment that federal policies are having on their resource sectors.
“So we see it growing. We see it growing from New Brunswick. We see it growing in Ontario. We see it growing in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We see it growing, obviously, in Alberta,” he said. “We have one place here that we need to grow on. I’m saying, ‘Quebec… We need you to help us make our country strong. We need you to be part of the solution.’ That’s our goal.”
The currently-defunct Energy East pipeline project would have carried bitumen from Alberta and Saskatchewan 4600 kilometers to refineries and terminals in New Brunswick. TransCanada Pipeline, the company proposing the construction of the project, pulled out of the project in October of 2017 after bitter opposition from various groups – including the province of Quebec – and a lack of cooperation from the federal government during the approval process.
MOOSOMIN AND CROMER
The Moosomin area would have seen the construction of a one-million-barrel tank farm and a feeder pipeline from Cromer, Man. to the Moosomin Compressor Station. Following the cancellation of Energy East, the Town of Moosomin and the RM of Moosomin began efforts to put legs under the project again by lobbying the provincial governments and resource-friendly opposition parties and provinces.
“When we talk about an energy corridor like the railroad many years ago, it’s that infrastructure that we support one another on,” said Higgs. “It’s the infrastructure that makes us stronger than any other nation. And it’s holding the values that we cherish. Hard work gets results… It’s not about more talk. It’s not about more focus. It’s not about more committees and more legislation. It’s about more doing; getting the job done.”
During his presentation, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said the federal government was not listening to the concerns coming from various regions of the country, including the resource-rich Prairie provinces.
“For far too long, our voices have not been heard. The voices that are being heard are the voices that would shut down our oil and gas industry; that would shut down our mining industry; that would shut down modern agriculture as we know it,” said Moe, at one time the lone provincial leader working against the implementation of a national carbon tax.
“The moment has come in the nation of Canada. It’s time for us to begin to push back… against a federal government that isn’t listening to us and, quite simply, doesn’t get it.”
Moe said federal policies are working against the interests of local and provincial economies and driving investment out of Canada.
“It’s time for all of us to stand up and defend our world-class, wealth generating, sustainable energy sector here in Canada,” he said.
Elden Boon, a grain producer near Virden and President of the Hudson Bay Route Association, attended the rally. “If we don’t get these pipelines built, there’s going to be a real take-away in rail capacity if oil is going to be moved by rail. That’s going to have a real negative affect on moving ag products,” he said.
“We’ve got to step up and make Ottawa realize the situation here in western Canada. In Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta we have the main source of commodities and we’re being handcuffed.”
Devin Nosterud, a plumbing and heating contractor based in Moosomin. He explained, “(Federal resource policy) impacts my supply acquisition and travel. We work a large area around Moosomin, so there’s trucks on the road and we pay for fuel and pay our guys,” he said, referring to how a carbon tax would affect his operation. “The cost of living goes up and not to mention, if there’s no jobs, people don’t make money. If people don’t make money, they don’t spend money. And if people aren’t spending money, businesses aren’t making money.”
Nosterud, like Premier Moe, said his region has not always been represented effectively, particularly in the resource sector.
“(Our area) seems to kind of be more of a subtext than anything,” he said. “So I really hope we’re going to achieve what we’re looking for in getting the word out and getting it out east so people realize this is an issue and something that needs to be addressed.”