Sinclair Harrison holds up the poster for the planned Moosomin pro-resource rally at the Chamber meeting Wednesday. Harrison and Bill Thorn spoke about the rally being planned for Feb. 16 with Andrew Scheer as guest speaker.

Moosomin Chamber of Commerce: Harrison, Thorn talk about resource rally

February 7, 2019 3:57 pm
The World-Spectator

At the Moosomin Chamber meeting on Wednesday, January 30, Sinclair Harrison and Bill Thorn gave a presentation on a pro-resource rally that will held in Moosomin on Saturday, Feb. 16, and will see Federal Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, and Senator Denise Batters speak.

The rally will be held at the IJack building, half a mile north of Moosomin on Highway 8, at 11 am, and will also feature other speakers, including Senator Denise Batters.

There will be a free barbecue lunch following the rally.

Harrison gave Chamber members some background on how planning for the rally got rolling. Harrison has been tasked by the town of Moosomin re-energize the conversation on Energy East, and has been working on that along with the Moosomin and District Economic Development Committee of the past few months. The rally plays into those efforts.

“I guess some of you want to know why Moosomin and area would get involved,” he said.

“We got involved the day that TransCanada pulled their application for Energy East. We became concerned. There was supposed to be a huge tank farm built, the pipeline would have been significant dollars for the area. Every municipality, every area across Canada, was going to benefit from this effort.

“So from there on we got interested. The RM and town passed resolutions. That went on to their provincial organizations, and they took it on to their federal counterparts, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities—they’ve been working hard on that side of it.

“Getting into the summer and fall, we felt we should be doing more. There was a lot of action in Alberta with demonstrations and rallies, some in Estevan, and the momentum was growing. Organizations that had been going in Alberta—Rally 4 Resources and Canada Action—were doing a lot to promote the industry in Alberta.

“As a result of that it ended up that there were going to be two convoys to Ottawa—the Yellow Vest movement which grew out of what’s going on in France and is rather a militant group, they are taking a convoy through to Ottawa and they are going to be going through Moosomin on the 15th of February. We have chosen not to be part of their group. They are broad based, they are talking about immigration and getting rid of the prime minister, they have a whole host of things and we are a group that want to promote pipelines and resource development.

“We were going to side with the Canada Action and Rally for Resources group. As things developed, there were the two groups and three Go Fund Me pages and people were donating to one and not knowing who they were supporting.

“To make a long story short, the Rally 4 Resources and Canada Action decided not to have their convoy through to Ottawa.

“So we thought Plan B, what do we do as far as a rally in the Moosomin area?”

Harrison says the Moosomin and District Economic Development Committee met to discuss how they could host their own rally in Moosomin.

“This group met and said what can we do to get a national focus on a rally in Moosomin? So the decision was to get the leader of the official opposition, Andrew Scheer. We contacted MLA Steven Bonk, and Steven knows Andrew very well, he put a request into him, Kevin (Weedmark) put a request into him.”

Harrison said he was also contacted by Gavin Semple, chairman of Brandt Industries, who he knows personally, about helping out with the event.

“I’d been on the (John) Gormley (radio) show in the fall,” he says. “Gavin heard me on the show talking about what we might be doing in Moosomin. He phoned me the next day wanting to know what he can do to help.

“Gavin is very closely tied to the politics and he’s part of the Sask Chamber and Sask Manufacturers Association.

“With his influence and Steven’s and others, we finally got word last Friday that Andrew Scheer was committed to coming to Moosomin on the 16th.

“Scheer has guaranteed that he will be there at 11 so we are going to have the rally and then the barbecue.

“We’ve sent invitations out to the premiers from the prairies, from Ontario, New Brunswick, several others, the president from SARM is going to be here on behalf of the rural municipalities. The vice president of cities for SUMA, he is the Mayor of Torquay, will be here, and both SUMA and SARM have agreed to send an invitation out to every municipality in the province. So that’s about 800 urbans and about 300 RMs.

“The RM of Ellice-Archie in Manitoba have been very supportive, and we are going to talk to them about sending out invitations to municipalities in the catchment area within Manitoba.

“I don’t have to talk about the value of this. To me there’s not one good reason why we shouldn’t be moving oil in pipelines. We are buying oil from Venezuela. Everybody has seen what’s going on in Venezuela and we’re buying oil from Saudi Arabia. We must be the laughing stock of the world when we can’t figure out how to get oil from the centre of our country to the shorelines.

“When you look at the economic impact on municipalities, when you take from Hardisty, Alberta through to Ottawa, and look at the municipal tax—not the provincial or federal tax—you’re looking at in the neighborhood of $240 million a year just in tax alone.

“You look at the benefits of pipeline construction, we’ve got a good demonstration of that right in town here of what’s going on with Enbridge and Banister.

“But if everyone in Canada could see what it’s done for our community and what it could do for Canada, it would be amazing.”

Harrison said they want to keep the rally a positive event, and they would be depending on local RCMP to ensure that it stayed positive.

“We want to keep our rally positive. We’re not bringing any opposition in as far as political or otherwise,” he says. “This is going to be very well advertised, and there could be yellow vests show up, there could be protesters show up.”

He said he had no idea how many people were going to come for it.

“It could be 500 people, it could be 5,000 people,” he said.

Bill Thorn, who is on the Moosomin Economic Development Committee, spoke of some of the logistics of the rally.

“The oil and gas industry impacts small communities just as much as it does the cities of Calgary, Edmonton and the bigger places. And it effects people right across the country, it’s not just an Alberta issue, it’s a Canadian issue and we want to make this presentation show that to whoever we can get there,” he said.

“We’re thinking with Andrew Scheer here that it’s going to attract national media, so that’s why it’s important that we have a full building that day and have it well attended. So we are asking everyone who is in the room to promote this in your business, in your homes, with your neighbors to attract as many people as you can to attend, and it’s a free lunch.

“We think that with Scheer here we’re hoping to have some other good speakers, and we’re hoping to get some industry people to speak too.

“We’ve associated with a company called Canada Action. We met them in Regina at the rally they had there, and they have been very supportive with all kinds of promotional material. They’ve also got some good ideas on how to run rallies.”

Thorn said Canada Action had provided them with some promotional material—signs, bumper stickers and decals—with a positive message about Canadian oil and gas, and he encouraged local businesses to take that material and display it “to make sure people know that Moosomin is supporting Canadian Energy sources.”

Thorn also said they could also use some volunteers to help ensure the rally runs smoothly and make it less work for everyone. He said about 70-80 volunteers would be appreciated. He said they were also accepting donations to cover costs, and that any excess money after the rally would be donated to Canada Action to help them keep promoting Canadian resources.

He added that all of the barbecue supplies have been donated by local beef producers in the area who want to help. “A bunch of beef producers wanted to be involved and are providing whole food part—the beef, the burgers, the buns, softdrinks,” he said.

Like Harrison, Thorn stressed that the rally is to stay positive.

“We’re not trying to have any kind of a protest, we are trying to encourage our presenters to talk about the oil and gas industry, and in particular pipelines,” he said. “We will try to get a message of support out and hopefully that message gets picked up.”

There were a few questions and comments after the presentation. An employee with Enbridge who was at the meeting asked if someone from TransCanada would be at the rally, since Energy East was their project.

“TransCanada have said up to this point that they are not talking to us. In the background they are supportive. I don’t know what’s going on in their boardrooms,” said Harrison.

“BJ Arnold is the public relations person for this area. I put a call to through him. Anything he said to me is keep doing what you’re doing but we’re not going to be seen as supporting you.

“The premiers I believe had had some discussion with them. The premier from New Brunswick says he has talked with TransCanada and more or less Trans Canada said Premiers do what you are doing. They pulled their application. It’s because of environmental and other regulations the federal government changed.

“One thing I didn’t mention is this bill, Bill C69, if that passes, it’s a whole new regime of environmental studies.

“At a meeting, the premier said if that passes you probably will not see another pipeline built in Canada.”

Neil Russell asked how many people from the government would be at the rally.

MLA Steven Bonk said they didn’t know yet, but that there would be some government representation for sure.

Josef Tesar, the owner of Motel 6 in Moosomin, said he wanted to thank Banister for the economic growth they had created in the region.

Mayor Larry Tomlinson talked about all the work that has gone into the town’s Energy East effort.

“Sinc and I started on this back a little over a year ago, and the first thing was to get it passed at SUMA, which I did on the floor at SUMA, and it passed unanimously, but there is a lot of work that has gone into it by these people and we’d sure appreciate your support,” he said. “It’s not that we want to put the town of Moosomin on the map, but it means a whole lot to the whole of Canada, not just us. If anybody can help we’d sure appreciate it and I’d like to really thank these guys for doing a lot of it.

“It’s a big project just on its own.”