The grass­roots are aflame and one of the main sparks to the grow­ing blaze of pro-en­ergy ac­tivism in this coun­try is a group called Suits and Boots.Founded by Rick Peter­son, an Ed­mon­ton fi­nan­cial ad­viser and owner of Peter­son Cap­i­tal, Suit­ has racked up many sig­nif­i­cant wins since launch­ing in Septem­ber.The group’s main rai­son d’etre is to “Kill the Bill.”That a huge swath of Cana­di­ans even know what that’s re­fer­ring to — Bill C-69 — has much to do with Peter­son’s brain­child, which brings to­gether ev­ery­body from white-col­lar in­vest­ment and en­ergy ex­ec­u­tives to blue-col­lar rough­necks and all the other peo­ple in be­tween who owe their liveli­hoods di­rectly or in­di­rectly to the en­ergy sec­tor and other re­source in­dus­tries.Suits and Boots al­ready has 3,600 com­mit­ted mem­bers, more than two-thirds of whom are from out­side of Al­berta.The ini­tia­tive started with cit­i­zens com­mit­ting to write three se­na­tors ev­ery day to press them to ei­ther kill Bill C-69 or rad­i­cally amend it.Bill C-69 (the Im­pact As­sess­ment Act) has been de­scribed by Peter­son as “the ham­mer that drives the nail in the cof­fin of re­source-sec­tor in­vest­ment in Canada.”Brad Schell, who lives near Oko­toks, is leav­ing Wed­nes­day to drive more than 3,260 kilo­me­tres to Arn­prior, Ont., just out­side of Ot­tawa to get a one­day head start on the United We Roll con­voy to Ot­tawa made up of hun­dreds of truck­ers.The 67-year-old grand­fa­ther, who owns a 53-foot-long truck, had the logo of Suits and Boots ap­plied to the side of his Ken­worth, to be a mov­ing bill­board for the group that he says helped mo­bi­lize him “to do some­thing” against “the com­plete lack of lead­er­ship and com­mon sense in this coun­try that can’t seem to build any­thing any­more and that is more in­tent on hurt­ing Cana­di­ans than help­ing them.” Peo­ple power is gain­ing steam. The con­voy to Ot­tawa is an­other ex­am­ple of the grass­roots catch­ing fire, as is CanadaAc­tion. ca, founded by Cody Bat­ter­shill, that has held nu­mer­ous, ef­fec­tive pro-en­ergy ral­lies across Canada.Bill C-69 is the cat­a­lyst be­hind much of what’s hap­pen­ing. Chris Bloomer, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian En­ergy Pipe­line As­so­ci­a­tion, warned the Par­lia­men­tary en­vi­ron­ment com­mit­tee last spring that “it is dif­fi­cult to imag­ine that a new ma­jor pipe­line could be built un­der the Im­pact As­sess­ment Act, much less at­tract en­ergy in­vest­ment to Canada.”Martha Hall Find­lay, a for­mer high-pro­file fed­eral Lib­eral and now pres­i­dent of the non-par­ti­san think-tank Canada West Foun­da­tion, says if the cur­rent Bill C-69 be­comes law, “kiss our in­vest­ment cli­mate good­bye.”As writ­ten, Bill C-69 will com­pletely over­haul Canada’s re­source project as­sess­ment process, in­clud­ing re­plac­ing the Na­tional En­ergy Board with a new Cana­dian En­ergy Reg­u­la­tor.On June 20, Bill C-69 passed third read­ing in the House of Com­mons and is now in the hands of a Se­nate com­mit­tee to come up with amend­ments that will hope­fully fix the myr­iad flaws con­tained in this bill.Once Suits and Boots’ ini­tial let­ter-writ­ing cam­paign ended, Peter­son urged group mem­bers to write all the se­na­tors again, par­tic­u­larly those on the Se­nate En­ergy, the En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee, to take its com­mit­tee meet­ings on the road to hear from con­cerned Cana­di­ans across the coun­try.Last week, the Se­nate com­mit­tee voted unan­i­mously in favour of do­ing just that, a huge win for Suits and Boots and all of Canada.For­mer Ed­mon­ton Jour­nal col- um­nist Paula Si­mons, who was ap­pointed to the Se­nate in Oc­to­ber by Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, put forth the mo­tion to de­bate go­ing on the road to hear the con­cerns of Cana­di­ans “from a va­ri­ety of in­ter­ests and across all party lines.”Si­mons says she and Patti LaBou­cane-Benson, the only two Al­ber­tans on the com­mit­tee, are “seized with the re­spon­si­bil­ity” to rep­re­sent all Al­ber­tans with re­gard to the bill.“The se­na­tors on the com­mit­tee un­der­stand that this is a re­ally im­por­tant bill and that the com­mit­tee is the last chance to get it right,” said Si­mons.Al­berta Sen. Doug Black, who is not on the com­mit­tee but has been an out­spo­ken critic of the bill, says he has never seen the kind of vol­ume of let­ters on any other topic in the past, even doc­tor-as­sisted sui­cide.Did Suits and Boots move the nee­dle on mo­ti­vat­ing the Se­nate to com­mit to go­ing through the al­most 300-page bill line by line?“With­out ques­tion,” says Black. “I’ve re­ceived less let­ters than some of the se­na­tors be­cause ev­ery­one al­ready knows that I’m very op­posed to Bill C-69, and I re­ceived thou­sands. I would say some se­na­tors have re­ceived tens of thou­sands of emails and let­ters, and what that com­mu­ni­cates loud and clear is that this bill will hurt al­ready hurt­ing peo­ple. This bill needs rad­i­cal fix­ing or it needs to be put through the chip­per,” said Black.Peter­son says if this cam­paign helps Canada dodge the bul­let that is Bill C-69, all of the cost and ef­fort will be well worth it.“The magic of Suits and Boots is that it gives a voice to se­verely nor­mal peo­ple across Canada who up un­til now have felt pow­er­less.“I get se­na­tors call­ing me back and their staff say­ing, ‘Rick, we’ve never had a cam­paign like this be­fore,’ ” says Peter­son.“I be­lieve that now that this spark has been lit, there is no stop­ping it.”

Brad Schell, who lives near Oko­toks, plans to leave for Ot­tawa Wed­nes­day with his 53-foot-long truck to join the United We Roll truck con­voy aim­ing to draw at­ten­tion to the plight of the en­ergy in­dus­try and the im­por­tance of fix­ing or killing Bill C-69.

© PressReader. All rights reserved.