Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Protesters at a rally in Vancouver to show opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline on September 9th, 2017.

Protesters at a rally in Vancouver to show opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline on September 9th, 2017. (Photo: William Chen/flickr/cc)

'Some Honesty for Once': Alberta Energy Minister Celebrates Covid-19 for Making In-Person Pipeline Protests More Difficult

"They're literally using Covid as a cover to build pipelines because they know protest is impossible."

Eoin Higgins

In what climate advocates described as an example of "saying the quiet part loud," Alberta, Canada Energy Minister Sonya Savage in an interview last week said the rise of the coronavirus pandemic has created an ideal opportunity to build pipelines because large in-person demonstrations have become difficult to sustain.

"Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can't have protests of more than 15 people," Savage told Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors podcast host John Bavil in a conversation released on May 22. "Let's get it built."

Bavil laughed at the remarks, but Savage, a member of the province's governing United Conservative Party (UCP), did not. The minister added that "people are not going to have tolerance and patience for protests that get in the way of people working."

"People need jobs and those types of ideological protests that get in the way are not going to be tolerated by ordinary Canadians," she said.

Savage was referring to the proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline, a priority of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's climate-killing, pipeline-friendly energy agenda. As Common Dreams reported Monday, over 200 Canadian groups are demanding a just recovery from the pandemic that centers both health and the environment.

On Monday, Alberta New Democratic Party energy critic Irfan Sabir said that Savage's remarks did not come as a "shock."

"The UCP have already used the pandemic as an excuse to suspend environmental monitoring," said Sabir. "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."

The comments went mostly unnoticed until Monday, when climate activists and campaigners like Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg began posting about the interview on social media.

"Well, at least we are seeing some honesty for once," tweeted Thunberg. "Unfortunately this how large parts of the world are run."

350.org founder Bill McKibben also weighed in on Twitter, saying that Savage "said the true part out loud."

"They're literally using Covid as a cover to build pipelines because they know protest is impossible," said McKibben.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Amid Existential Threat to Reproductive Rights, Congress Urged to Act

"It's the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and if we don't fight like hell it could very well be the last," said one campaigner, who called on U.S. lawmakers to pass the Women's Health Protection Act.

Brett Wilkins ·


Black Mississippi State Senators Stage Walkout as Critical Race Theory Ban Passed

"We cannot continue to stumble into the future backwards," said one Black senator who taught for 33 years. "That's what this bill does."

Brett Wilkins ·


Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo