Alberta man told to remove his pro-oil and gas shirt during Senate tour
Published Thursday, September 5, 2019 10:35PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 5, 2019 10:37PM EDT
A Calgary man on a recent tour of the Senate was told to remove a shirt that displayed his support for the oil and gas industry.
William Lacey, a chief financial officer for Steelhead Petroleum Ltd., wore a shirt said “I (heart) (maple leaf) OIL & GAS” during a tour of the Senate over the long weekend and said he was swiftly taken aside by security and told to either wear the shirt inside-out or leave.
“The security guard looked at me and said: ‘Excuse me sir, I'm going to have to ask you to remove that shirt.’ And I looked and him and I said: ‘Excuse me?’ And he said: ‘Yes, you're going to have to remove that shirt because some people may view that as being offensive,’” Lacey told CTV News.
Lacey was told the Senate prohibits political messages in the building, including those on clothing. According to the Parliament of Canada's website "participating in any form of demonstration inside the buildings is prohibited, including wearing items or clothing with visible political messages."
Lacey decided to turn the shirt inside-out and continue the tour. He said he was allowed to wear the shirt during a tour of the House of Commons on the same day.
“Nothing was said so I found it a little bit curious,” Lacey said.
Lacey later sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer and several senators to advise them of what had happened.
The incident was brought up during a Senate committee meeting on Thursday.
“Just as a Western Canadian, I just find that outrageous,” said Conservative Sen. Denise Batters.
She owns the same shirt and can’t comprehend what makes the message inappropriate.
“That's just a pro-jobs statement, that’s a pro-Canada statement,” Batters said.
Alberta’s Energy Minister Sonya Savage was also left confused as to what made the shirt offensive.
“On what planet that anybody could find this offensive, that I don't understand,” she said. “Perhaps they wouldn’t find ‘I love Bombardier’ offensive.”
Guillaume Vandal with the Parliamentary Protective Service said the incident was a mistake.
"Personnel misinterpreted a message on the visitor's article of clothing,” he wrote in an email on Thursday. “The staff involved will be receiving operational guidance and training with respect to visitors to the Hill.”
"We offer our apologies to the gentleman that raised this issue for the situation he experienced during his tour.”
The shirt is designed by Canada Action, a non-profit organization that advocates for the advancement the oil and gas industry.
Lacey, who is associated with the group, said he regularly wears the shirt, not to anger people, but to show his pride for the industry which he works.
“It's the business that everybody in a world of growing oil and gas demand should be supporting and not vilifying,” he said.
With files form The Canadian Press