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

Just Posted

Haitian foster children arrive in Nelson after months-long lobbying effort

Marie-Paule Brisson and Sebastien De Marre have parented girls age 12 and 8 since they were babies

Trail RCMP, coroner, investigating fisherman’s sudden death

The Maple Ridge man, in his 50s, died while fishing on a bridge near Trail

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Large police presence in Castlegar on July 9 involved man peeing on street

Three police officers responded to the incident near the Black Rooster Pub at around 1:30 p.m.

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Most Read