Swift Current council members expressed unanimous support for the oil and gas industry in response to a recent controversial fossil fuel motion by a City of Regina councillor.
Mayor Al Bridal introduced the report and motion as an addition to the agenda of the regular City of Swift Current council meeting, which took place via video conference on Jan. 25.
“A wide range of discussion has taken place during this past week throughout the province regarding the oil and gas industry,” he said during the reading of the motion. “As a result of this discussion, the question of municipal support for this vital industry has been raised. At the City of Swift Current, we unequivocally support the oil and gas industry and their employees here in Saskatchewan. We also recognize that without this industry, we could not live in this harsh environment we love, called Saskatchewan.”
He noted the world needs energy, and Saskatchewan energy companies can provide energy in an environmentally friendly, ethical and sustainable way.
“Council of the City of Swift Current wants you to know that if no other communities want you, we do,” he said. “I therefore respectfully recommend that council provide a resolution indicating it's support for the energy sector and all it provides to the people of Swift Current, the province of Saskatchewan and to Canada.”
This motion by Mayor Bridal came in response to a controversy that started a week earlier as a result of a proposal at a City of Regina executive committee meeting on Jan. 20.
Regina councillor Dan LeBlanc proposed an amendment to the City of Regina's sponsorship, naming rights and advertising policy to include fossil fuel producers and sellers on a list of organizations from which the City will not solicit or accept sponsorship or advertising. His proposal was supported by six other councillors, but three councillors and Regina Mayor Sandra Masters voted against it.
Mayor Bridal said during a media briefing after the Jan. 25 council meeting there were a couple of reasons why he felt there needed to be a motion from the City of Swift Current to support the oil and gas industry.
“If we look internationally, let's look south of the border to President Biden and we can look to the east of our country to our Prime Minister Trudeau,” Bridal mentioned. “Both of them seem to think, I believe naively, that we can have enough energy to live here from just windmills and solar power and electric vehicles, and our climate today is a perfect example at minus 24.”
He added that Saskatchewan winters are quite different from the weather in Florida or California, and the oil and gas industry is required to sustain life on the prairies.
“So we have people in the States, like president Biden, we have Prime Minister Trudeau that don't live out here, and for whatever reason I believe they're both naive,” he said. “And I want to use that word, and it's a word that several councillors mentioned tonight about councillors in another city, shall we say Regina. We might as well just get the name out there. These councillors are very naive to think that they could survive in Regina without gas and oil, and I wanted to make a statement that gas and oil is something that's very important not just to this district, but to the whole world in order for the world to have as many people as it does.”
Bridal said he wants a cleaner world with less pollution, but it will not happen overnight and for now the oil and gas industry will continue to be the engine of the Canadian economy.
“Those councillors in Regina, which one of them walked to that meeting,” he asked. “Which one of them rode their bicycles to that meeting? All of those councillors who went to that meeting and voted against this horrible oil, they all drove their cars or hopped in a taxi or hopped on a bus, all using energy to get there.”
Swift Current councillors expressed their support for Bridal's motion during the council meeting, and they referred to the importance of the oil and gas industry in the southwest and the province.
“This is a sector that's been under attack and has quite frankly been demonized that last number of years in wholly unfair manner as far as I'm concerned.” Councillor Tom Christiansen said. “This country produced the most ethically sourced oil in the world under very strict environmental and labour standards and we will be requiring this for a number of decades yet, despite some of the rhetoric that's out there.”
He referred to the contributions of the oil and gas industry to the economy, both on a local, provincial and national level.
“These industries provide well-paying job directly as well as a robust service industry employment, and they're also major contributors to our communities through their donations and sponsorships of local teams, arts and culture, social initiatives, and many more facets,” he said.
Councillor John Wall also felt the oil and gas industry is treated in an unfair manner and it therefore needs an expression of support from Swift Current.
“Our community needs the energy, we need the people that work here, and they seemed to get hit all the time,” he said. “Now we hear another one about the Keystone pipeline. It's another hit, and it just seems like it goes on forever. So as a community, I would say that we really, really appreciate this energy sector and we will support this fully.”
Councillor Ryan Switzer said the hardworking people in the oil and gas industry are working long hours to produce the energy needed by the economy.
“This discussion came from a city in Saskatchewan that wanted to pass a bylaw to put our oil and gas sector in a similar category as tobacco and X-rated adult entertainment, and that's distressingly shortsighted and frighteningly naive,” he said. “There's the energy that they produce, the fuels in our cars, they heat our home, the petroleum byproducts from the glasses on my face to the device that this is being watched on. There's so much that they contribute to our world and I'm very glad that this motion was made and certainly will be wholeheartedly supporting it.”
Councillor Leanne Tuntland-Wiebe said she was part of a video series made for Energy Citizens in support of Canada's oil and gas industry, and she will therefore wholeheartedly support this council motion. Councillor Pat Friesen thanked Mayor Bridal for putting this resolution forward and she supported the comments made by the other councillors.
Councillor Ryan Plewis referred to his thoughts about the controversial proposal made at the City of Regina executive committee meeting.
“And what immediately came to my mind was talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face,” he said. “It just makes no sense to me that a community in western Canada with such a dependence on not just obviously energy but on energy employees would have something like that come out, and kudos to the rest of their council and the mayor who did not agree with that. ... Those people who in a shortsighted and naive way object do so while enjoying all of the privilege and the benefit of that industry. And that's something that's pretty hard to swallow, regardless of what you think of the future of energy needs and the way that we should be doing things.”