Dear Justin: Alberta oil town delivers 6,800 letters for Trudeau

'We just want Canadians to understand the fight we're in to feed our families'

A delegation from Drayton Valley braved freezing rain Monday to deliver bags of letters addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the Alberta legislature.

The group collected 6,800 letters in five days they hope will highlight the impact low oil prices have had on their central Alberta town. They met with Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd and asked her to send the letters to Ottawa.

"We just want Canadians to understand the fight we're in to feed our families," organizer Tim Cameron said.

Cameron, a project manager and life-long Drayton Valley resident, was joined by several business owners. They walked up the stairs of the legislature clutching clear plastic bags filled with letters addressed to the prime minister.

They were joined by Mark Smith, the UCP MLA for Drayton Valley-Devon, and someone dressed as the title character from the Dr. Seuss story How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

A group of Drayton Valley residents delivers 6,800 letters to the legislature, lamenting job losses and lost income in Alberta's troubled oil industry. 1:02

Drayton Valley is home to many companies that service the oil and gas industry. Cameron said the oil price crunch has hurt businesses and turned the town of about 7,000 into a ghost town in the evenings.

Cameron was one of the organizers of a pro-pipeline rally in Drayton Valley last week that attracted 1,300 people. He said people want the government to take action right now, not kick the problem down the road.

"Start a project. Start any project. We're not fussy at this point in time," Cameron said. "I mean, we've got people that are aren't paying their bills right now. We've got homes being foreclosed upon."

Shari MacPherson is the president of Ariant Holdings, an oilfield services company that has operated for 30 years. She said her company used to have 19 employees. Now it has three.

"This was a business I was hoping to leave to my children," she said. "There isn't much hope for them."

McCuaig-Boyd said she was sympathetic to the concerns raised by the Drayton Valley delegation during their meeting.

"I absolutely stand with these folks," she said. "We're all frustrated and we really need the feds to step up with action and less words."

McCuaig-Boyd committed to getting the message, and the letters, to Ottawa.

Tim Cameron and Shari Macpherson carried bags of letters up the stairs of the Alberta legislature Monday. (CBC)


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