The national oil and gas industry advocacy group, Canada’s Energy Citizens, held their second formal get-together in Prince Rupert at the North Coast Convention Centre’s Orca Room on Oct. 18.
After Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) president Tim McMillan spoke at a summer Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon, CAPP organized its first Energy Citizens meetup at Wheelhouse Brewery in July.
Campaigns manager Steve Rennick and British Columbia campaigns advisor Natasha Westover welcomed the approximately 60 attendees to the casual reception last Tuesday evening with an address to the Energy Citizens crowd.
“We saw some media reports where they were talking about how [Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency] received about 1,400 letters that Energy Citizens sent [in support of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project], so I’m fairly confident to say that from the efforts of the Energy Citizens program and people in this room, you made a real difference. You got involved in the process and let our decision makers know that this is an important industry,” said Rennick.
“What we’re trying to do through the program is give Canadians who are supportive, an opportunity to be involved in the process and let our decision makers know, whether that be Premier Christy Clark or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that there are Canadians out there who are supportive of this industry.”
Rennick added that as of now, approximately 200,000 Canadians have signed up to be a part of the Energy Citizens program, 90,000 who have signed petitions, pledges and open letters in support of Canadian oil and gas, and a House of Commons e-petition had close to 35,000 signatures to develop Canada’s oil and gas industry in a responsible way over the summer.
Stewart Muir, executive director of Resource Works, a non-profit organization encouraging fact-based discourse around the natural resource sector in the province, also addressed attendees and stated that the work done by the Energy Citizens was vital in the federal government’s approval, with conditions, of the Pacific NorthWest LNG (PNW) project.
“It’s very important that civic society and your expressions of support be seen at the federal and provincial levels because that is what gives those decision makers the ability to internally say to themselves, before they make a decision, ‘You know what, we’ve got support for this. We’re not going to get flayed alive when we go out with an unpopular decision.’ You showed them that they were making the right decision when they approved that project,” said Muir.
‘Say Yes to Lelu Island LNG’ Facebook group contributor and co-founder Ralph Weick said that he was born and raised in Prince Rupert, and despite leaving for 14 years, returning in 2003 was a tough pill to swallow, seeing the state of his hometown.
“I’ve been accused of being an industry shill and paid, but I’m not. I work for the municipality and I’m just a citizen or resident or taxpayer that have seen a lot of different industries kick the tires here and have not come to pass,” Weick said. “[Encouraging informed discussions] has definitely been challenging. It’s taken a lot of my own personal time, but I feel passionate enough about it, that I’m OK with it … We never sought to give a blank cheque to PNW for this project. We sought to share the best information we could.”