A Canadian oil worker appeared at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday to voice support for the country’s oil industry.
According to CBC News, oil rig worker Bernard Hancock delivered his remarks as an electronic petition calling for increased federal support for oil and gas projects and workers was submitted to the House of Commons.
The petition was officially presented by Shannon Stubbs, Member of Parliament for Lakeland (Alberta), and was signed by nearly 35,000 people.
“The livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Canadians rely on the oil and gas sector directly and indirectly, and 110,000 Canadians have lost their jobs in the energy sector,” Stubbs said according to a transcript provided by Open Parliament.
According to Stubbs, the energy industry is the largest private-sector investor in Canada and contributes $17 billion annually to government programs and services across the country.
“It’s people who don’t have a dog in this race that are influencing this public policy,” Hancock said during his address.
The Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors (CAODC) said that the petition is one of the most signed e-petition ever presented in the House of Commons.
Hancock, who called himself “just your average roughneck,” drew attention to the waves of layoffs that have impacted the oil sector and the ripple effects of mounting job losses.
“It’s not just the guys in the field, it’s the truckers, it’s manufacturing across this country, it’s the convenience stores that we get stuff at in the mornings, its the hotels that we utilize…this is a country-wide issue,” Hancock said.
Hancock told CBC News that he is an unofficial and unpaid spokesperson and received no money from industry groups.
The CAODC did pay for Hancock’s travel and lodging expenses for the event.
“The majority of Canadians are not activists or paid protesters. The fact that this is one of the highest signed e-petitions reaffirms that the majority of Canadians support the oil and gas sector, and support pipelines provided they are built and managed responsibly,” CAODC president Mark Scholz said in a statement.
The petition asks that the House of Commons “vocally support” the oil and gas industry, support new pipelines across Canada and support the hundreds of thousands of employed and unemployed oil workers in the country.
Hancock also credited his oil industry job with helping him pay for his education.
“We got people from all over this country coming to Alberta for a better future because in today’s day and age there no longer exists a middle class outside of the oil class,” Hancock said.
Hancock previously garnered media attention when he voiced support for the Canadian oil industry during a protest against pipeline giant Kinder Morgan earlier this year.
The interview, conducted in January, has been viewed nearly 575,000 times on Youtube.