Parliament policy banning ‘I love Canadian oil & gas’ tee remains a mystery
Two-and-half months after Alberta petroleum executive William Lacey was asked by security at the Senate of Canada to remove his “I love Canadian oil & gas” t-shirt, allegedly deemed too political by authorities, the supposed policy surrounding the brouhaha appears non-existent.
While Lacey received an apology Sept. 5 from Parliamentary Protective Services the same day Senator Denise Batters raised the matter at Senate committee, none has been forthcoming for an Alberta couple involved in a similar run-in with security for the same t-shirt transgression.
Batters told The Post Millennial that she has yet to receive a response from either speakers’ offices–Senate or House of Commons–who are responsible for security at all parliament buildings in Ottawa.
“Where is the policy about this particular issue? I’ve asked for a copy of the particular policy, when it came into effect and who instructed it be put it into place,” said Batters.
“And I still have not received any of those answers.”
According to the Parliament of Canada’s website, “participating in any form of demonstration inside the buildings is prohibited, including wearing items or clothing with visible political messages.”
How security is to apply this prohibition, however, appears to remain ad hoc in nature.
Queries by TPM to the Office of the Speaker of the House, about how “I love Canadian oil & gas” t-shirts became a political lightening-rod to be banned on Parliament Hill, were forwarded to the Senate speaker and parliament security.
As of publication, TPM has only received a response from Parliamentary Protective Services that offers no information on any guidelines, except that there was a misunderstanding and these are under review.
“Following those two incidents, we have initiated a review of procedures and provided guidelines to our operational staff (and) are working to ensure that these guidelines are communicated and understood by all front-line personnel,” writes PPS chief of staff Guillaume Vandal.
“Our goal is to avoid such incidents from reoccurring.”
For Batters, a Conservative senator representing Saskatchewan, the t-shirts are not political.
“It’s a pro-jobs message, she said. “That’s why I have such a problem with westerners being turned away from these buildings in the heart of our democracy for simply and positively supporting the energy industry. It’s the lifeblood of not only our region, but the entire country.”
More than 120,000 energy sector jobs have bled out of the Albertan and Saskatchewan economies over the past five years while at the end of October, iconic Canadian petroleum giant EnCana announced it was rebranding itself and moving its HQ from Calgary to Denver.
The consensus among energy sector players, watchers and supportive politicos is that the Liberal government’s overhaul of environmental legislation (Bill C-69, and the northwest coast oil tanker ban in British Columbia (Bill C-48) has created significant investor uncertainty in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that the government is going through a process to determine whether the Teck Frontier Mine is in the national interest, according to Global News.
When a reporter asked the prime minister if he knew how devastating the cancelation of this project would be to Alberta’s economy, Trudeau responded, “I understand that it is a project that has a lot of people reflecting on the choice that we’re about to make.”
“We are taking this responsibility seriously,” Trudeau added, “to make a decision that is in the national interest.”
The Teck Frontier Mine is a multi-billion dollar project, located in Alberta’s oilsands, that could employ some 7,000 workers during constuction and 2,500 workers once the project is completed—giving some much needed relief to Alberta’s starved economy.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau is considering an “aid package” to Alberta if the Federal Government decides not to follow through with the Teck Frontier Mine.
“I would never think to characterize this as anything other then creating opportunities,” said Morneau. “Alberta is a province where we have great entrepreneurs who have built a strong economy and I think what we need to do is address the economy as challenged right now and create a path forward that will have hope for this generation and the next generation. I look at it very differently.”
The Teck Frontier Mine has created a great deal of contention from within the Liberal caucus, with some Liberal MPs calling for Trudeau to block the project. It has also sparked protests across the country. In Belleville, for example, First Nation protesters blocked train tracks for four straight days, stopping all trains between Ottawa, Toronto, and Montreal.
As well as this, a dozen protesters blocked access to Vancouver’s Delta Port and would not leave until the RCMP left the Wet’suwet’en territory. Hundreds of dock workers could not be paid until the First Nation protesters left.
A new Ipsos poll shows Albertans are feeling worse off than before, and are spending less than any other Canadian province.
According to Global News, 28 percent of Canadians said they were spending less than before; the number in Alberta was 38 percent.
Alberta, a province rich in natural resources such as oil, is undergoing a financial crisis. In November, Alberta showed a loss of 18,000 jobs, increasing its unemployment rate by 0.5 percentage points to 7.2 percent. That is an increase of 0.3 percentage points from 2018.
But that’s not it. According to PetroLMI, direct employment in Canada’s oil and gas sector is expected to fall further. More than 12,000 jobs this year—a decline of 23 percent from 2014—are expected to be gone.
Alberta is still finding it hard to recover from its 2014 oil recession. The province had lost more than 100,000 jobs.
The poll asked respondents about how happy they were in five categories: personal life, romance, finance, health and social life. Albertans were slightly less happy than other Canadians in all categories.
The data shows a contrast between age groups too. The younger generation of Albertans is significantly more worried about their future than their older counterparts.
49 percent of Albertans also described their financial situation as “bad”, 14 percentage points higher than the national average.
Lastly, almost eight in ten Albertans agreed that Canada is more divided than ever; the average for Canada is six in ten.
Greta Thunberg has joined up with 15 more young climate activists. They have claimed that Canada and Norway are violating the rights of children throughout the world with their oil and gas production.
The activist’s claim that the higher output of fossil-fuel production violates the countries obligations in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Hausfeld LLP released a statement noting that the youths have sent letters to both Canada and Norway addressing the countries’ fossil-fuel production. The letter contrasted the plan with the two countries’ self-proclaimed titles of leaders in climate change.
In the letter to Trudeau dated Dec. 10, it says, “Canada must apply its international climate leadership to all domestic action,” the letter also says, “It must demonstrate how a major fossil fuels producer and exporter can transition away from these pollutants, blazing a trail for other fossil fuel-reliant economies to follow.”
The letter covers Canada’s Line 3 pipeline that stretches from Alberta to Wisconsin as well as the Trans Mountain pipeline. Canada’s oil production could be raised 10 percent by the addition of the Line 3 pipeline alone.
The letter also says that Canada “must end the development and export of new oil and gas reserves, and set a plan to quickly phase out existing production fields,” and adds, “It must stop prioritizing short-term economic gains over the future of its children and all children around the world.”
The letter requested that Trudeau deliver a response in the following two weeks. The request was sent to Jonathan Wilkinson who is the new environment minister for Trudeau.
Wilkinson’s spokesperson, Moira Kelly, wrote an email saying, “Young people and Canadians across the country are counting on us for accelerated action on climate change,” she added, “We hear them, and all of the Canadians who sent a clear message this election, that continuing to fight climate change needs to be a priority.”
“We know we need to make a transition to a cleaner economy and we know that this will not happen overnight,” said Kelly, “We are committed to taking thoughtful solutions with Canadians to ensure that the clean economy is affordable for everyone.”
In 2018, Canada pumped more oil than Iraq, OPEC’s second largest supplier, according to data from BP Plc. By 2040, crude output is projected to increase by close to 50 percent, according to Canada Energy Regulator.
A recent study by Statistics Canada revealed that Alberta has lost 18,000 jobs in November alone. The decline in jobs was across numerous industries but was affected most in wholesale and retail trade, according to the Labour Force Survey.
Total employment had seen little dramatic change over the past decade. The unemployment rate rose by 0.5 percent to 7.2 percent as early as August but has since rebounded to 6.6 percent in September and 6.7 percent in October according to StatsCan.
This isn’t just affecting Alberta alone, across the country 38,400 full-time jobs and 32,800 part-time jobs were lost in November. Canada’s overall unemployment rate went up 0.4 percent since October being the biggest one-month hike since 2009.
Manufacturing employment hasn’t been as affected over the past years but the natural resources sector saw about 25,000 lost jobs or 7.2 percent. Alberta and British Columbia taking the biggest hit. British Columbia lost 18,000 jobs in November.
The services-producing sector had a decrease in employment of about 25, 000 workers primarily in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta this November. Men between 25 to 54 and women aged 55 and older were most affected.
Calgary’s housing market is showing the fallout of this increase in unemployment. A decline of 2.2 per cent for the average new home since July 2018 according to the New Housing Price Index.
Jim Sparrow, a long-time realtor in Calgary told the CBC that “the resale prices have been falling for almost five years since the price of oil fell. We’ve sold fewer detached single family homes year to date than we did last year.” said Sparrow.
Even with the decline in prices, it’s the slowest year in Calgary real estate in 23 years. This has led to a decrease in the building of new homes as well.
“Buyers are really hard to find these days for homes in pretty much any price range,” said Sparrow.
Sparrow feels the oil and gas industries are struggling and is the reason for the downward shift in Calgary’s housing market.
“There’s a lot of people that aren’t impacted by the price of oil. But ultimately, I think they will be because Calgary still runs on oil and gas,” he said.
Calgary Real Estate Board chief economist Ann-Marie Lurie told the CBC, “When you take this many people out of the industry … they have no choice but to leave the province if they want to make a living.
“I don’t think we’re going to have any dramatic change in demand next year unless there’s a shift in economic conditions.” she said.