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."
"Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can't have protests of more than 15 people. Let's get it built." @NaomiAKlein's shock doctrine playing out in Alberta https://t.co/rAweME028V
— Brian Kahn (@blkahn) May 26, 2020
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."
if you need a global pandemic to help you ram through fossil fuel infrastructure projects, maybe that's a sign you've lost the social license required to build said projects. https://t.co/r3fel42tjs
— Emma Jackson (@EmmaJackson57) May 25, 2020
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.