Dear Prime Minister, Senators and Honourable MPs,
I am writing to you today regarding a recent experience that I had in our nation’s capital. My wife and I travelled out east to drop our youngest child off at university for his first year of engineering. Seeing as this was a fairly long trip, we decided that we would extend our trip by a few days so as to take in the sights and sounds of Ottawa. Over the following few days we made plans to go on a bike tour of the city, visit the science museum and national gallery, and tour the core buildings of our nation’s capital (House of Commons, Senate and the Supreme Court).
In all, the experience was a good one, with one very notable exception. When my wife and I went to visit the Senate, we were taken aside by security and told that the shirt I was wearing needed to be removed as it may offend some people. What was the offending shirt?
Nowhere does the shirt say anything negative, defamatory or insulting to others. Far from it – it advocates a responsible and ethical approach to resource development. Last I checked, freedom of expression is protected under Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Moreover, there were other people on the tour who had graphics of things like a skull with a cross on the forehead, an anti-discrimination shirt (ironic) and one with a peace symbol on it.
The last time I checked there was nothing illegal about the Canadian energy sector, and yet I was made to feel as though I should be embarrassed for what I was wearing. The solution? I was told I could either leave or I could turn my shirt inside out and take part in the tour – I chose the latter option. The next stop on our tour was the House of Commons, where I was welcomed and there were absolutely no concerns expressed regarding my shirt. I went out of my way to talk with various members of security and not one of them raised an eyebrow at my shirt.
I would like an answer as to why I was treated in such a manner at the Senate and if it is the policy of the Government of Canada to shame members of the Canadian energy industry. I am proud of the industry I work for and I know firsthand that we are leading the way globally in terms of improving environmental performance as well as other aspects related to ESG (environment, social and governance) standards.
I look forward to your response.
William Lacy is the Chief Financial Officer of Steelhead Petroleum in Calgary
Follow him at William Lacy on Linkedin