Dear oil and gas supporters,
It feels like the Canadian federal election took the wind out of everyone’s sails, but if you support oil and gas, you cannot sit back quietly any longer. Absolutely not. If we sit back, the discrimination, rhetoric, and misguided hysteria will continue, and the oil and gas sector and its workers will continue to be silenced and vilified. I, for one, will not accept politically motivated vilification any longer.
I felt it was time to speak to you, oil and gas supporters, after the Patagonia (non)order heard around ‘the patch’. If you aren’t familiar, an oil and gas service company attempted to place an order to purchase some Patagonia products that they would monogram with their company logo. On parchment paper-thin grounds, the third party vendor cancelled the order because it was placed by an oil and gas company, something that appears to have been in contravention of the contract they have with Patagonia.
Then there is Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics. The Calgary Chinook Centre location closed on September 27, 2019, for the Global Climate Strike “to march for those we owe a future to” because Lush “can’t carry on like it’s business as usual”.
I took this picture outside the Chinook Centre Lush store.
The next day they carried on with business as usual. The irony is that they are a store that sells only non-essential, discretionary products that the world could do without and still survive. One bathbomb costs more than most people make in a day in a developing country. Their constant attacks on oil and gas show me that they are a company that is privileged, entitled, and ridiculous.
I support businesses having a conscience because they are run by human beings, after all. I also think that people and businesses should stand up for their values and what they believe. However, what I cannot support is blatant hypocrisy and virtue-signaling. I wonder if Patagonia has denied product to GM or Amazon or Boeing or Apple because of their contribution to creating emissions? Probably not because that would be ridiculously absurd. Replace the words “oil and gas” with an ethnic minority group in the Patagonia example. There would be riots in the streets due to the outrage, yet somehow it’s perfectly acceptable for them to deny product to an oil and gas company. We’ve allowed this kind of behavior to be normalized, and that isn’t okay. It certainly isn’t getting us closer to solutions.
As an oil and gas supporter, what can you do?
1. Be proud to support Canadian oil and gas.
2. When you see an article or news story that is inaccurate and defamatory towards Canada’s oil and gas sector, write to the reporter and the news outlet. I’ve heard that newsrooms are getting threats from radicals on the anti-development side so much so that they are afraid to publish pieces that are in any way balanced or appear somewhat supportive of oil and gas. We can’t allow anarchists to terrorize and take away freedom of the press and free speech. Often the most vicious groups are the smallest, and yet we let them wield the most power.
3. Challenge perceptions. Whether it’s the CBC defending climate hypocrisy or young children crying in terror because they believe they are going to die imminently, help people understand the pros and cons of using Canadian oil and gas. Telling someone you know that you support oil and gas could go a long way in changing their perceptions because they trust and respect your opinions and views.
4. Challenge misinformation. Too often my own friends who don’t work in oil and gas regurgitate what they have heard in the mainstream media. They’re intelligent people who are not anti-oil and gas, but they don’t know better, so they trust the media. They should be able to, but we know that that is simply not the case anymore. Therefore, it’s up to those of us with direct knowledge in the sector to speak up and correct mistruths. Many people in this country (and around the world) are energy illiterate. Some people don’t even know they use fossil fuels. How about the famous photo below of the person with the sign that says they don’t need oil because they ride the bus. This is clearly an uninformed person who would benefit from credible, respectful energy education.
I wonder if they gave up any of these products made from oil?
Photo courtesy of the Canadian Energy Network
5. Attend a pro-energy rally. Every rally that Canada Action and Rally 4 Resources holds should have thousands upon thousands of people, but yet the numbers are not often there. We need you there as part of the community to show your support.
6. Talk to your elected representatives at all levels of government because I believe a collection of voices can influence policy. With the recent federal election, there is an opportunity to educate the newly elected MP’s about the benefits of oil and gas. Let all elected officials know that you support balanced, responsible energy development, and you want them to be part of a coherent, informed, rational conversation on your behalf. All it takes are three to five letters from constituents to get your representative’s attention.
7. If you’re an industry executive, speak up. Share your personal stories about working in oil and gas. Encourage your staff to attend pro-oil and gas events. Your influence and encouragement will go a long way. Also, use your knowledge to tell your company’s story. You don’t have to post a viral Youtube video to be a success. Connect with people you know on a personal level and explain the business.
What you should not do is name call, threaten or dismiss the other side if they want to have a conversation. Be respectful and be open to talking with anyone who is willing to have a discussion. Don’t tolerate abuse or mistreatment, but don’t give it either.
All of this takes courage, and I know you have it in you, so don’t hesitate. Your voice matters.