Police estimate nearly 3,000 Calgarians protested at City Hall Monday, the third major protest within the last month. Calgarians previously protested Prime Minister Trudeau and Finance Minister Morneau when they visited the city last month, citing their lack of attention to the critical state of Alberta’s energy industry.
In the province where the health of the energy industry is directly reflected in the overall economy, Calgarians and Albertans are unable to find work. Despite the Alberta provincial and Canadian federal governments repeatedly projecting job growth, which is often only reflected in newly created public service jobs, at least 100,000 Calgarians, over ten percent of the city’s population, are known to be unemployed due to the recession, though the actual number is likely much higher. Suicide rates have risen sharply, home resale prices have dropped significantly, yet inventory isn’t moving, new homes are still overpriced as homebuilders and developers are walking away from land leases, foreclosures on homes have risen, office and commercial vacancy is the highest in Canada at around 30 percent, and City Hall have hiked business taxes again resulting in people losing and walking away from their businesses.
Over the weekend, almost 4,000 people protested, including a 600-vehicle convoy, in Grande Prairie, Alberta, the hub for oil production in northwestern Alberta. Their message reflects that of Calgary’s protestors: industry solidarity and telling politicians that the oil and gas industry needs support. That event was organized by pro-oilsands groups Oilfield Dads and Rally4Resources, which say government regulations are suffocating the Canadian oil and gas industry.
Head of the Grande Prairie Oilmen's Association Rob Petrone said the convoy was three times the size that was expected, showing how deeply the worries run. Mr. Petrone said young Albertans shouldn't be faced with a future that has no jobs and high debt. Spokesman Bernard Hancock, known as Bernard the Roughneck, said the rest of Canada needs to be thankful for the prosperity Alberta provides. "We aren't just a monumental cash cow for the government. We provide opportunities for families across the country," Mr. Hancock told the crowd, "It puts chicken in the pot in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. It puts a roast in the oven in Miramichi, New Brunswick. It puts tortiere on the fork in Granby, Quebec. And it puts tofu on the table in Toronto and Vancouver!"
At both events, protestors are concerned about the political agenda of the provincial and federal governments that are harming the energy industry, specifically the federal Bill C-69, which would overhaul the environmental assessment process for major resource projects. Bill C-69, which is currently making its way through the Senate, has been widely criticized by opponents who say it could slow down many important projects and drive away investment in the energy sector – a reaction that has been accelerating since the 2015 Alberta provincial election of the NDP party and federal election of the Liberal party under Justin Trudeau.
To begin on January 1, 2019, the Alberta government has introduced a temporary 8.7 percent oil production cut, which is a decrease of 325,000 barrels a day, in the production of raw crude oil and bitumen.