Marc Morrissette works in the oilpatch, drives a big truck and enjoys mixing it up with the anti-pipeline crowd on social media. So in some ways, the rant was inevitable.
“I’ve had a lot of (rants),” said Morrissette, a pipeline boss and father of three who lives just outside Fort St. John. “My wife said ‘don’t get so fired up, just clean up your vocabulary and make it public and see what happens.’”
Morrissette’s Facebook post, which went up earlier this summer, tackled the “douchebags in lifted trucks stereotype” of the Canadian oilpatch.
“That was the first one I made public.”
As of July 13, it had been shared 6,648 times by oilpatch workers weary of lectures on their choice of vehicle.
Morrissette, who drives a F-350 diesel (with no lift) to get to work over rutted oilpatch roads, said he was sick of hearing about how Western Canadians are suffering due to their foolish choice of vehicle.
This Hour Has 22 Minutes, for example, has riffed on down on their luck oilpatch workers in at least two segments this year. One features a greasy Fort McMurray correspondent lamenting the economic downturn (“I even had to sell the smaller truck that sits in the bed of my bigger truck in case my bigger truck breaks down, bud!”) Another featured two Maritimers forced to move home to their mother’s house (“He had to sell his truck. Now he’s only got two trucks left!”)
It’s a sentiment Morrissette says has been thrown in his face during the latest debates over Pacific NorthWest LNG: hard times? Shouldn’t have bought that big truck.
“(It’s like) when Newfoundland lost its fisheries, if the West made fun of them and said get rid of those big fancy boats,” he said. “It’s the same reason people like to drive by an accident to see the carnage. It’s the wrong way to be.”
He said he hoped to convey that for many people working in the oilpatch, a big truck is a necessity. While some young “meatheads” might blow their money on bells and whistles, most just need to get to work.
“Pipeliners work on the road, so 90 per cent of them own travel trailers,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to pull it. You need a truck to get your trailer to where you’re going to be living for the summer or the next three months or whatever. Also, as soon as you get off the highway, you’re on dirt.
“You’re pulling trailers, you’re hauling tools. It’s very important to be driving a truck. You can’t drive a car out there,” he said.
Morrissette spent years working north of Fort St. John when times were good, saying he put in “hundreds of kilometres of pipe up there.” He said he moved his family to Fort St. John full time when the NDP were elected in Alberta.
He described the new reality in the oilpatch as “brutal.”
Companies looking for work “are bidding so low just to have cash flow, and they’re driving rates down for guys who haven’t worked in awhile…let’s say you made $30 an hour, you’re going back to work for $17.”
Morrissette said he wasn’t surprised by the reaction he got to his rant, saying many in Western Canada feel they’re being kicked while they’re down.
While he drives a less ostentatious truck now, he doesn’t begrudge others their souped up ride.
“When you get a truck, you love it and you want to dress it up,” he said. “You put some rims on it, you put on some tires. It’s part of life that any young man in the North or in the West or anywhere goes through.”
Lifted trucks have become “part of the stigma that makes people against pipelines,” he said. “Yeah, (it’s) overkill, maybe, but according to who?”