Grassroots Power

Grassroots Power

August 14, 2020

If you want to see the power of grassroots voices, look at Suits and Boots.

A little more than two years ago, a small group of capital markets professionals from Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Val d’Or, Quebec, joined me in founding this not-for-profit group in response to all the attacks on Alberta’s energy industry.

We had no idea what we were doing when we started out. But we’ve ended up being wildly successful. And why is that?

Because we were able to harness a wide and deep base of support from grassroots, normal Canadians who are fed up with professional protesters – which is a lesson I’ll bring with me when I become the next Conservative Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona.

I will actively reach out to small groups of people, from all neighborhoods and all sectors, and listen to the “silent majority” who aren’t part of organized protest groups or simply are too busy trying to keep their jobs and raise a family. When you do that, and when you harness the ideas and energy of everyday, “normal” people, amazing things can be accomplished.

That I know, from my experience as founder of Suits and Boots.

Brad Schell with his truck  Senate Bill C-69 hearings #StandUpToChina campaign

In April of 2018 our small group was upset when Kinder Morgan surprised everyone by announcing they were pulling out of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The federal government stepped in to buy the pipeline, but we were dismayed that this was just one more sign that big energy projects were being stalled by people who wanted to kill our energy industry.

So we got together, filed as a not-for-profit with Industry Canada, collected some donations that allowed us to put up a website and a social media page, and then we went to work trying to provide a voice in support of the resource sector. We wanted the “suits” from the business and investment community to work with the “boots” on the ground in the resource sector to bring a positive, proactive voice.

And, boy, did we ever succeed:

  • We organized a pro-resource rally outside of Vancouver – right in Greenpeace’s back yard.
  • We stepped into the middle of the fray over the Camp Cloud protest site on Burnaby Mountain, with two of your young volunteers standing tall in front of physical threats and intimidation.
  • We launched a highly successful letter writing campaign and phone call blitz to the Senate that played a large role in mounting opposition to Bill C-69.
  • We flew an airplane banner protesting Bill C-69 around Parliament Hill
  • We supported Brad Schell, a retired High River, AB trucker, in his solo journey across Canada to Parliament Hill to protest Bill C-69. Brad and I were invited to testify before the Senate on C-69 a few weeks later.
  • We started a campaign urging the government to #StandUpToChina over the embargo on canola from Western Canada.
  • We supported 16 federal Conservative candidates in the 2019 election and helped elect 12 of them.
  • We conducted a highly successful cross-Canada resource sector listening tour.
  • We’ve recently helped promote the idea of “green bonds” and closely looking at how environmental, social and governance standards are applied to investments in the resource sector.
  • And we enjoyed widespread media coverage for our work as you can see by clicking here.

All of this we did with simple donations from our grassroots members, and thousands of hours of volunteer time. Our grassroots supporters wrote letters, op-eds, made phone calls, posted our ideas on their social media platforms, spoke to their friends and neighbors, and donated to our cause.

That has been amazing, and so deeply humbling to be a part of - and it’s about to take the next step onto even bigger and better things.

On Thursday I announced that I’ll be stepping back from Suits and Boots to focus my efforts entirely on winning the Edmonton Strathcona Conservative nomination, and then moving on to win this riding for the Conservative Party in the next federal election.

Rick Grafton, a good friend of mine and an energy executive from Calgary, will be taking over as Executive Director of Suits and Boots. And he’ll be bringing on a new team with him.

Rick has been an early and strong supporter of our group, and he’s coming into this with some strong ideas and initiatives that I know will resonate with our Suits and Boots supporters.

Rick GraftonRick Grafton

And I will continue to throw all my time and energy into making sure that grassroots, conservative voices are heard loud and clear in Edmonton Strathcona.


- Rick Peterson


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