The security service for the Canadian Senate has apologized to an energy industry executive who complained in an open letter about being forced to turn his T-shirt inside out during a tour of the building after a security official said it might offend some people.
The Calgary Herald reports William Lacey, chief financial officer of Steelhead Petroleum, was on tour of the Senate with his family wearing a T-shirt that said “I love Canadian oil” on the front and “The world needs more Canadian energy” on the back.
According to Lacey, “The guard looked at me and he said, ‘Sir, I’m gonna have to ask you to remove your shirt because some people may be offended by the message,’” after which he invited Lacey to either turn the T-shirt inside out or leave the premises.
Lacey did turn his shirt inside out to continue the tour but once he got home, he wrote an open letter to express his frustration with the way the Senate security guard had treated him.
Under an image of the “offensive” shirt, Lacey wrote, “Nowhere does the shirt say anything negative, defamatory or insulting to others. Far from it – it advocates a responsible and ethical approach to resource development. Last I checked, freedom of expression is protected under Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Moreover, there were other people on the tour who had graphics of things like a skull with a cross on the forehead, an anti-discrimination shirt (ironic) and one with a peace symbol on it.”
“The last time I checked there was nothing illegal about the Canadian energy sector,” Lacey wrote, “and yet I was made to feel as though I should be embarrassed for what I was wearing. The solution? I was told I could either leave or I could turn my shirt inside out and take part in the tour – I chose the latter option. The next stop on our tour was the House of Commons, where I was welcomed and there were absolutely no concerns expressed regarding my shirt. I went out of my way to talk with various members of security and not one of them raised an eyebrow at my shirt.”
Further on in his letter, the energy executive asked if it was the policy of the federal government to shame members of the Canadian energy industry.
The letter, according to the Calgary Herald, caught the attention of Conservative legislators who presented the case to a parliamentary committee and asked the security service for an explanation. The service admitted the guard had gone too far and offered Lacey apologies.