EDMONTON — A man has been charged after staff say someone phoned the legislature office of Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips and threatened to shoot everyone over the carbon tax.
Michael Enright, an oil products salesman from Camrose, says he didn't make any threats and was simply calling to voice his frustration over the hurt currently being experienced in his industry.
"This was nothing. This was me having a bad day,'' Enright said when contacted by The Canadian Press on Thursday. "I'm a very calm person. Everybody knows me as a guy who never gets upset.''
Cheryl Sheppard of the Edmonton Police Service said Enright faces one Criminal Code charge of uttering threats.
"I'm a very calm person."
The call happened a week ago, on March 31, in the middle of the afternoon.
"He was calling to express his anger over the carbon tax,'' a staffer in Phillips's office told police in a statement.
The staffer told police the caller, who refused to identify himself, referred to the minister as a man. When he was reminded Phillips was female, "he told me the NDP only hire people with boobs, not qualified people.''
"He then said he was going to get his ammunition and gun and come here and shoot us all,'' the statement reads.
Sheppard said Enright was charged later that day with assistance from police in Camrose.
"He said he was going to get his ammunition and gun."
Enright said Thursday he has not been in court yet.
He denied making any threats.
"No, I didn't say that. I don't have a gun. I don't have ammunition. I didn't say that at all.''
He was listening to right-wing talk-radio show
Enright said he was driving and listening to talk radio host Danielle Smith, former Opposition Wildrose leader in the legislature, when he called Phillips's office.
"I'm listening to Danielle Smith talking just one thing after another about — whatchamacallit — the economy and the coal. I've got friends who are losing their jobs, and I phoned in,'' he said.
"I didn't mean to get upset and I did not threaten anybody at all. All I said was that if they (the NDP government) keep pushing people, people are going to get guns and they are going to revolt.
"I was talking globally, not specifically. I would never, never, ever threaten anybody. I've never hurt anybody. I don't even have a speeding ticket.''
"I've got friends who are losing their jobs."
Enright said the whole thing has been blown out of proportion.
"I feel terrible that the person on the other end actually felt threatened by me.''
He said if he thought it would make amends, he would write the office an apology letter and do even more for the female staff member with whom he spoke on the phone.
"When this is all done, I'm going to send her flowers.''
The maximum penalty for uttering threats is five years in prison. None of the accusations has been proven in court.
Not the first threats against NDP
Premier Rachel Notley and other members of her cabinet have been the target of threats in recent months. Some people have posted messages on Facebook and other sites threatening to kill the premier.
There have been no reports of any charges laid as a result.
The threats spiked last December when Notley's government passed legislation mandating safety rules on farms and making paid farm workers eligible for workers' compensation.
Energy Minister Marg McCuaig-Boyd tearfully recounted in the legislature that she had been harassed and threatened over the farm bill.
Phillips has said on Twitter she gets angry and abusive messages daily on social media.
Climate change plan has raised concerns
The carbon tax, set to begin on Jan. 1, is part of a climate-change plan introduced last November by Phillips and Notley.
The tax, designed to give consumers an incentive to move toward greener energy alternatives, will increase the cost of everything from gas at the pumps to home heating and electricity.
The province is also moving to shut down all coal-fired electricity plants by 2030. That has led to concerns about job losses and a harmful domino effect on communities.
Also on HuffPost:
Here's a look at some of the major energy industry layoffs that have affected Alberta in 2015:
Company: Royal Dutch Shell Layoffs: Hundreds of layoffs at its massive Albian Sands project. The company announced it is laying off less than 10 per cent of its 3,000 workers.
Company: Suncor Energy Layoffs: The company announced it will layoff about 1,000 people from its workforce of 14,000. It also cut $1 billion from its capital budget
Company: Schlumberger Layoffs:Schlumberger announced they would cut 9,000 jobs in January, and another 11,000 in April, but did not report on how may of those jobs would affect Alberta employees.
Company: Newalta Layoffs: The company announced it would cut 180 people from its workforce to reduce costs and improve margins. The cuts amounted to 15 per cent of its staff.
Company: Weatherford International Layoffs: The oilfield services company said it will lay off 8,000 workers worldwide, or about 15 per cent of its workforce. According to Global News, about 1,000 of those positions affected Albertans.
Company: Cenovus Energy Layoffs: Cenovus Energy Inc. said it will cut its staff by about 15 per cent, the bulk of layoffs coming from its contract workforce. The company also suspended employee salary increases for this year.
Company: Precision Drilling Layoffs: Precision announced a net loss of $114 million, and was forced to adjust to a "swift and severe" decline in crude prices, said CEO Kevin Neveu. At the time, Neveu said about 50 fewer Precision rigs, and 1,000 fewer people, were running than at the same time a year ago.
Company: Finning International Layoffs: Finning International said it will cut 500 employees, or about 9 per cent of its Canadian workforce. Some of these cuts came to people working the Alberta oilsands or based in Edmonton.
Company: Husky Energy Inc. Layoffs: Husky Energy Inc. unexpectedly laid off 1,100 workers at its Sunrise oilsands project.
Company: Nexen Energy Layoffs: Nexen said they would slash 400 jobs "in response to the recent industry downturn." The majority of Nexen's cuts affected employees at its Calgary office.
Company: Talisman Energy Layoffs: Talisman Canada said it would reduce its workforce by 10 to 15 per cent as it grapples with low crude prices. Spokesman Brent Anderson says up to 200 employee and contractor jobs would be cut, mostly at the company's head office in Calgary.
Company: ConocoPhillips Layoffs: ConocoPhillips announced that they will cut seven per cent of their Canadian staff — or about 200 people in total. Spokeswoman Kristin Ashcroft said that some Calgary-based staff and workers in the oil field would be let go.
Company: Trican Well Services Layoffs: Trican Well Service Ltd. cut 2,000 employees from its North American workforce, including about 800 in Canada, and said it will stop paying dividends to its shareholders, citing the difficult current and future market conditions.
Cenovus Energy Inc. cut between 300 to 400 jobs in the second half of this year, on top of 800 layoffs announced in February.
Penn West announced it is cutting its workforce by 400 full-time employees and contractors — most of them working at company headquarters in Calgary.
ConocoPhillips Canada confirmed to CBC News it will reduce its workforce by about 15 per cent — 400 employees and 100 contractors. The majority of jobs lost will be in the Calgary office.
Cenovus, Suncor, Athabasca Oil and Calfrac all lay off hundreds of workers. "Unfortunately, these are the necessary steps required to weather an extended downturn," company spokesman Matt Taylor tells CBC.
Enmax, Transcanada and Enbridge all announced layoffs, totalling more than 560 employees, CTV reported.
ATCO Group laid off more than 400 people, according to The Calgary Herald, bringing the total group layoffs of the year to over 18,000 workers.