Thousands of people gathered outside the Alberta government’s building in downtown Calgary on Tuesday afternoon to voice their support for oil pipelines as the future of a major project hangs in the balance.
The people who converged on the McDougall Centre’s grounds at about 4 p.m. were very loud in calling for both Ottawa and Alberta’s NDP government to take further action to ensure the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project goes ahead.
View photos from Tuesday’s pipeline rally in Calgary in the gallery below:
Canada Action says it helped to coordinate the rally along with Rally for Resources. Organizers said Wednesday that upwards of 1,500 to 2,000 supporters were estimated at peak attendance.
On its website, Canada Action describes itself as “strong supporters” of the oilsands and as a “volunteer-led grassroots movement encouraging Canadians to take action and work together in support of our vital natural resources sector.”
“I’m tired of the silent majority not speaking up and it’s time — we need this, Alberta needs it, Canada needs it, and so does B.C., actually,” said Steve Goodwin, who was at the rally to support the pipeline.
“I really think the onus here is on the federal government to step in and ensure that there’s no more obstacles,” said Claude Brown, who was also at the rally to support the pipeline. “The courts have ruled in favour of this proceeding and the B.C. Government has ignored that.”
The Calgary protest was set to feature speakers from various political stripes, including Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney, the Alberta NDP’s Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson and federal Conservative MP Michelle Rempel. Kenney seemed to draw the biggest cheers from protesters.
By 6 p.m., most of the protesters had left the McDougall Centre grounds.
Watch below: Some videos from Global News’ ongoing coverage of the controversy surrounding the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
Over the weekend, the company hoping to complete the Trans Mountain expansion project announced it was scaling back work on the federally approved $7.4-billion project. Kinder Morgan says it made that decision because of fierce opposition and delays from the B.C. government. The company has also run into difficulties with the City of Burnaby and seen large protests take place at one of its work sites.
Ottawa approved the pipeline’s expansion in November 2016 but progress has been hampered by court challenges and permit issues since.
The project would triple the pipeline’s capacity to carry oilsands bitumen from Alberta to the West Coast. B.C. Premier John Horgan says he is worried that it threatens his province’s coastline and wants assurances about what would happen in the event of an oil spill.
Kinder Morgan has set a May 31 deadline for the federal Liberal government to give the company solid assurance the project will be able to be completed.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has threatened sanctions against the B.C. government if it continues to block the project’s advancement. This week, she said she will ensure the pipeline expansion project proceeds, even if it means Alberta has to become the primary investor.
“We are considering a number of financial options to ensure that the Trans Mountain expansion is built, up to and including purchasing the pipeline outright if were to come to that,” Notley said in a statement on Tuesday. “But it is not the only model we’re considering.
“Obviously the best interest and outcomes for Albertans will be front and centre as we explore these options.”
“I think they could still hold that back so let’s put pressure on the federal government, first to act, and only look at intervention on the investment side if that’s the last option,” Kenney told Global News at Tuesday’s protest.
Watch below: Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Tuesday evening that there was a cabinet meeting earlier in the day which they reaffirmed their commitment to the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
The leader of Alberta’s United Conservatives said he supports Notley threatening to impose sanctions on B.C. if that province continues to impede the Trans Mountain project’s progress. He said it’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government that need to break the impasse.
In light of Kinder Morgan’s threat to abandon the project, some political commentators have suggested the Trans Mountain pipeline dispute threatens to pose a consitutional crisis in Canada because B.C’s provincial government is seen to be blocking a federally approved project from proceeding.
A similar rally is being planned for the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Thursday afternoon.
-With files from Global News’ Blake Lough and The Canadian Press