Locals who work in oil and gas hope to make the community’s support for the industry clear. A rally has been planned for this Sunday in Muskoseepi Park.
Andy White, Taylor Howarth, and Cole Murphy work at a Grande Prairie-based oilfield company and say they were inspired to take action by the current oil price differential and feelings of disrespect for the industry from the federal government. White explains he’s tired of hearing about companies laying off workers and cutting back spending.
“We just feel that the whole oil and gas sector is somewhat being neglected by the government and it’s not respectfully being taken into consideration how many jobs and families are being affected by the changes that the government is trying for regulations and the carbon tax, which is crippling to the entire oil and gas industry.”
In particular, they take issue with Bill C-69, which is currently before the Senate. It’s an overhaul of how energy projects get approved, creating a new Impact Assessment Agency and replacing the National Energy Board with the Canadian Energy Regulator, as well as new timelines and processes needed for proposals to move forward.
Murphy wants to change the conversation surrounding the oil and gas industry, arguing it’s often pitted against the environment. He believes it’s an issue that affects all of Canada, not just Albertans, noting the success of the industry affects others like retail and hospitality.
“It trickles down to absolutely everybody. When we’re doing good we’re buying trucks and we’re spending money in restaurants and going to gas stations. We want those small businesses to survive just like we need to.”
The rally from 1 to 3 p.m. on December 16th is billed as a family-friendly event, with speakers who have been affected by cutbacks and layoffs. Local politicians have also been invited. Murphy says it’s meant to be a peaceful event to get the voices of those in support of the energy industry heard.
“It’s got to be something that we do as a collective to make sure that we have the best environment that we can and the best future for our children as well.”
Response to the rally has been swift, with more than 1,000 people marked as attending through its Facebook event and another 3,800 interested. Posts on social media also indicate a convoy of trucks will be making its way through the city starting at JDA Oilfield Hauling on the west side at 2:30 p.m.