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Amid Challenges on Many Fronts, Activists Continue to Politicize Relief Efforts

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Written by: DYLAN LACROIX 

Canadian oil companies are experiencing unprecedented times as the COVID-19 health crisis and resulting drop in demand has prompted energy companies to cut budgets and reduce production.

The situation is concerning for all Canadians given the economic benefits the energy industry generates through royalties and tax revenue. Workers from 14 of Canada’s largest oil and natural gas companies, most of which operate in Alberta and British Columbia, recently issued an open letter describing the impacts they’re experiencing:

“Canada’s oil and gas workers need your help. The perfect storm has turned into the perfect tsunami for the Canadian oil and gas industry…The companies that employ and support hundreds of thousands of Canadians across this country are decimated.”

While an urgent public health crisis and international market conditions create havoc on Canadian’s wellbeing and economic prosperity, some special-interest groups see an opportunity to inflict further harm on those workers. Last week, activist groups rallied to convince the Canadian federal government that the oil industry is not a valuable and robust driver of the economy.

Behind the effort

The climate group STAND.earth and youth activist group Sustainabiliteens, among others, hosted an online forum to collect signatures and petition the federal government to shut out Canadian oil and gas companies from a supposed stimulus package for the industry.

For years, groups like STAND.earth have utilized legal groups and different political tactics to create roadblocks and drive up costs for oil and natural gas development in Canada’s Pacific Northwest. While their purported goal is to address climate issues, these activists are opportunistically using the pandemic to harm a significant sector of the economy and to create barriers to job creation and economic growth.

Thanks to the oil and natural gas industry, millions of Canadians have had well-paying jobs and a steady source of income for their families for years. By promoting special interests with the intended outcome of diminishing the industry as a whole, STAND.earth and its partners continue to work against the wellbeing of fellow Canadians.

Furthermore, STAND.earth has tried to shield itself from its past. Originally STAND.earth began as an American nonprofit that was funded through foreign donors. At its onset, STAND.earth was solely attacking the Canadian forestry industry, but began furthering its scope later on, targeting the energy industry. To date, the group refutes any notion of foreign entities influencing a Canadian national industry, though there are numerous examples of Canadian activists receiving foreign funding.

Now is the time to support oil and gas

In order to protect Canada’s workforce, the government must also protect the companies they work for. As a part of its petition, STAND.earth is seeking to separate oil and natural gas workers from their companies in terms of who receives financial support from the federal aid.

STAND.earth’s proposal puts forth a short-sighted solution to a challenge that goes far deeper than temporary income relief. Jobs in the energy industry can only be supported and sustained with a viable and healthy energy business.

More than ever, now is the time to support industries which give Canadians well-paying jobs and continue to drive the country’s economy. Support during challenging times should not be tied to the goals and desires of special-interest groups, it should serve workers in industries with a history of delivering jobs and opportunities to its people.

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The Energy Mix on Apr 20, 2020

Dylan, your post set us on a bit of an editorial journey that ended up here:

https://theenergymix.com/2020/04/19/canadian-climate-campaigner-pushes-b...

From watching this story close up, I know two things: That STAND.earth and the rest of the Canadian climate community have been utterly consistent about standing up for oil and gas workers, but not for bailouts aimed at their executives and shareholders. And that Canada has no such thing as a "Pacific Northwest". If you find it, please do let us know. Otherwise, given a choice between sharpening up your geographic references or your economic analysis, I suggest starting with the latter.

The Trudeau government's response to the situation, BTW, has been receiving praise from all sides -- including both STAND and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. One begins to get the impression that they might be doing something right, even if that conclusion doesn't fit comfortably in your attack-style blog:

https://theenergymix.com/2020/04/19/a-major-turning-point-trudeau-unveil...

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