Drilling group calls on Alberta, Ottawa to show sector more respect

CALGARY -- A drilling industry group is calling on the federal and Alberta governments to do more to stick up for oil and gas workers.

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Mark Scholz, head of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors, says 100,000 people are out of work in the oil and gas industry -- the equivalent of one in six.

Scholz says the group isn't asking for a handout, but wants both levels of government to speak out more vocally in favour of market-opening pipelines.

He adds that there's too much misinformation being circulated about the industry's environmental record.

The association has launched a new campaign called "Oil Respect" that includes bumper stickers, petitions and an encouragement for people to write their political leaders.

It also wants Feb. 13 to be recognized next year as Oil and Gas Awareness Day in Alberta, marking the 70th anniversary of striking oil in Leduc, Alta.

"Oil workers aren't just losing their jobs -- families are losing their homes, businesses are going bankrupt. Over the past several weeks, I have read countless stories of families who are going through incredibly difficult times," said Scholz.

"Our industry is not asking for a government handout but we are asking for an honest discussion and we are asking for respect for an industry that has done so much to make Canada the best country in the world."

He adds that as the industry contends with the worst economic conditions since the 1980s, it's also fighting a new trend of "misinformed criticism, celebrity activists, media elites, some politicians and environmental radicals."



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