CALGARY -- Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage is the latest target for climate activist Greta Thunberg. 

“At least she’s being honest,” Thunberg said in a tweet Tuesday morning. 

The 17-year-old outspoken critic of the oil industry was referring to comments Savage made on a May 20 episode of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drillers (CAODC) podcast. 

Savage said bans on public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic will better allow pipeline construction to occur without protest. 

“Now is a great time to be building a pipeline because you can’t have protests of more than 15 people," she said.

"As we go on and we get out of more immediate phases of COVID, people across Canada are not going to have tolerance and patience for protests that get in the way of people working.

“People need jobs and those types of ideological protests that get in the way are not going to be tolerated by ordinary Canadians.”

Savage added she was pleased that about 57 per cent of the Alberta phases of the Trans Mountain pipeline -- from Edmonton to Burnaby, B.C. -- are now complete. 

The energy minister continued, however, with the notion that less protests during COVID-19 will better advance construction. 

“Let’s get it built,” she said. 

Greta’s response 

Those comments are not sitting well with Thunberg who added in her tweet, “Unfortunately this is how large parts of the world are run.” 

The Swedish teen visited Alberta last fall and held a Friday’s For The Future climate change rally on the steps of the legislature building in Edmonton. 

During her speech, a crowd of more than 4,000 people listened to her strong challenge to politicians and energy leaders. 

“This is no opinions or political views, this is the current best science and the politics that even recognize this are nowhere in sight.”

Savage has yet to comment on Thunberg’s recent tweet, but Government House Leader Jason Nixon jumped to his colleague’s defence during a Tuesday morning press conference. 

“Pipelines remain a priority of the people of Alberta and necessary for our prosperity and our future and we will continue as a government to do everything possible to get our product to market,” Nixon said. 

“Minister Savage was not saying that the Alberta Government in any way would prevent somebody from legally protesting. We believe in a democratic right to be able to express their views inside democracy.”

Alberta’s current COVID-19 restrictions limit public outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 50 people. 

Protests have been few and far between during the pandemic, but recent rail blockades by members of the Wet’suwet’en Nation against a natural gas pipeline running through their land, prompted Alberta Premier Jason Kenney to increase punishments for unlawful protests. 

Environmental challenges have also led the province to create a $30 million ‘energy war room,' better known as The Canadian Energy Centre, to combat misinformation about the oil industry.