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

VIDEO: Abbotsford Agrifair’s Drive-Thru Safari debuts

Event draws well as families look for entertainment in COVID-19 era

Abbotsford Police respond to incident on Edgeview Place

Cul-de-sac closed for several hours after mental health situation with young man on Sunday

Fraser Valley Bandits release top forward Cameron Forte

A team leader through four games of the CEBL Summer Series, Forte has been cut loose

The Happy Hiker, Art Lengkeek, recognized with bench and plaque on Mount Cheam trail

The 88 year old is a familiar sight on trails throughout the Fraser Valley and beyond

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Wildfire breaks out near Harrison Hot Springs

1.5 hectare fire is reportedly human caused

Police lay out details of mental health response in Abbotsford over long weekend

APD officers assist mental health team for three hours yesterday, man sent to hospital with injury

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch playoff spot with win

Bandits down Niagara River Lions 70-57 on Sunday, improve to 3-2

Most Read