Alberta energy minister says now is a 'great time' to build pipelines as coronavirus restrictions limit protests

Alberta’s energy minister, Sonya Savage says that now is the time to construct a pipeline as protests will be limited by public-health restrictions.

Sam Edwards High Level Alberta

Alberta’s energy minister, Sonya Savage says that now is the time to construct a pipeline as protests will be limited by public-health restrictions, according to The Globe and Mail.

Savage gave the comment on Friday during a podcast with the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. The minister was asked about the Trans Mountain Expansion project currently being built between Vancouver and Edmonton.

“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.”

Savage continued to suggest that the pandemic’s impact on the country's current economic state is good for pipeline construction.

“People are not going to have tolerance and patience for protests that get in the way of people working,” she said. “People need jobs and those types of ideological protests that get in the way are not going to be tolerated by ordinary Canadians.”

In an email, Savages spokesman said, “We respect the right to lawful protests.”

“I would note that the limitations to public gatherings … have benefited no one – including project proponents and any opposition groups.”

The limit for outdoor gatherings has increased to 50 in both B.C. and Alberta.

The Opposition New Democrat energy critic, Irfan Sabir was not surprised by Savage’s comments.

“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.”

Premier Jason Kenney’s government has taken mixed stances on protestors in the past.

Kenny recently defended the public’s right to protest after a man was arrested while protesting against lockdown orders.

When there is civil disobedience involved, the government is not as tolerant.

Legislation was introduced in February that imposed large fines along with possible jail time for protestors caught damaging or even interfering with certain energy infrastructure.

A similar bill was put into place in December carrying stiffer trespassing penalties for animal-rights activists protesting at agricultural facilities.


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