The Alberta legislature grounds were busy Thursday afternoon as politicians of all stripes joined a crowd of demonstrators urging government to do more to get the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion back on track.
The event was organized by a group called Rally for Resources.
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.
United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney and Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous spoke at the rally on Thursday.
“We’re not backing down and not giving in,” Bilous said. “Ottawa needs to step up.”
The Alberta government has been calling on the federal government to stop the opposition in B.C. While the premier met with federal ministers on Wednesday and was slightly more encouraged action would be taken, no specifics were made public.
During the rally, Kenney said Canada has far better environmental, human rights and labour standards than other oil exporters, like Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
“In a world where there is a growing global demand for oil and gas for at least the next generation, the question for us is whether or not Canada will play a larger role in supplying that growing demand or whether we will bottleneck these resources and give the monopoly to some of the world’s worst regimes.
“We need more Canada!” Kenney shouted.
Federal minister Amarjeet Sohi was booed as he started addressing the people gathered at the legislature.
Federal MP Matt Jeneroux also planned to attend the rally.
“Under the leadership of Justin Trudeau, the Liberal government has created a toxic environment for energy investment, which is why these projects keep getting cancelled or suspended,” Jeneroux said in a news release.
“Not only has the prime minister failed to show any leadership on the inter-provincial Trans Mountain dispute, he is actually making matters worse for the Canadian energy sector by imposing harmful policies such as the carbon tax and new regulations that penalize Canadian oil exports.”
A similar demonstration in Calgary took place on Tuesday at McDougall Centre.
Canada Action says it helped to coordinate the rally along with Rally for Resources.
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.”
A meeting has been set for Sunday between Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and B.C. Premier John Horgan.
Notley says she will attend the meeting in good faith and with an open mind, but the bottom line is the expansion project must get built without delay.