Calgary mayor gets flak online for ‘cavemen’ comment while defending Alberta oil and gas sector

Click to play video: 'Calgary mayor defends Alberta oil and gas industry'
Calgary mayor defends Alberta oil and gas industry
Fri, Feb 1: Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi defended the Alberta oil and gas sector Wednesday, saying that Albertans are not a bunch of “F350 driving cavemen.” – Feb 1, 2019

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is getting some flak online for comments he made about the state of the oil and gas sector in Alberta.

On Wednesday, Nenshi was with Premier Rachel Notley to announce funding for the expansion of Calgary Transit’s LRT Green Line project. He was asked by reporters what he thought about the City of Victoria endorsing the option of pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Alberta oil and gas companies because of costs associated with climate change:

“People can talk about cruise ships, people can talk about water treatment plants… Everybody has skeletons in their closets. I’m not interested in having that discussion.

“What I am interested in is helping everyone in Canada understand that we here in Alberta, that we are not a bunch of F350-driving cavemen… that we believe strongly in the environment, we believe strongly in the economy and we believe in financial and environment prosperity for all Canadians.”

Story continues below advertisement

On Thursday, an unverified Twitter account belonging to Vegreville Ford east of Edmonton tweeted: “Today, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that not all Albertans are “F350 driving cavemen.” While I appreciate his mentioning a Ford product, I wonder if he is suggesting that some Albertans are cavemen? I think he is going to want a do over for that one.”

The man behind the account, Brian Baron, said he posted the tweet as a way to create a discussion and was trying to be more humorous than anything else. He said he didn’t find Nenshi’s comments particularly offensive.

Story continues below advertisement

“What I found to be funny other people found to be alarming,” he said. “It didn’t offend me.”

Baron said he wasn’t trying to create controversy. He said his only concern was that the mayor was possibly stereotyping who a typical Ford F350 user is, though he said he understands the context around Nenshi’s comments.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“I didn’t want to create [any] animosity towards the mayor,” he said. “It’s amazing what draws people in.”

Baron said he had to turn his smart phone off because the tweet was generating so much reaction.

Story continues below advertisement

“This was unbelievable… My phone was dinging off the hook.”

Nenshi responded on Twitter at around 3 p.m. Friday.

Story continues below advertisement
The F-350 Super Duty with the Powerstroke diesel is a refined heavy hauler. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Lethbridge Herald - Al Beeber

Others came to the mayor’s defence.

Twitter user Shawn L. said: “as much as I dislike @nenshi, the quote was “What I am interested in is just helping everyone in Canada understand that we here in Alberta are not just a bunch of F-350 driving cavemen” – isn’t he saying Albertans AREN’T the hillbilly redneck cavemen many Canadians think we are?

Story continues below advertisement

Others felt people were being too sensitive:

Still, other Twitter users took a lighter tone:

Speaking at an event in Calgary on Friday, official opposition leader Jason Kenney said he hopes the mayor will apologize.

“I have a hard time understanding why the mayor of Calgary would insult many of his tax-paying constituents.

“People who drive F350s are typically hard-working people who need that equipment to haul their tools to work, to create wealth, to pay taxes — here in this town to the City of Calgary.”

Story continues below advertisement

Kenney said he thought Nenshi’s comments were condescending.

“I am tired of political leaders in this province who continue to insult Albertans and repeat negative stereotypes about them, playing to the peanut gallery in downtown Toronto, instead of respecting their own hard-working constituents.”

Global News reached out to the mayor’s office on Friday. Officials said they didn’t want to comment.

With files from Global News’ Aurelio Perri and Emily Mertz

Sponsored content