The leader of the Alberta Liberal Party didn't know the alternative slang definition of the term "laying pipe" when he used it in a televised debate on Thursday.
But now that David Khan is aware that in addition to the literal definition of building a pipeline, "laying pipe" can also mean having sex, he doesn't plan to stop selling the shirts or hats the party has emblazoned with the term.
"I think people know that I didn't know what it meant," Khan told HuffPost Canada over the phone from Calgary. "What I do mean about it is that we've got to get pipelines constructed in Alberta and get people back to work."
Sneak peak of the #LayingPipe Hat. You want. We got. Let's get the #TMX pipeline built. We should also revive the #EnergyEast pipeline to the Maritines. #ableg#abvote#Alberta#Electionpic.twitter.com/RJtzvqspuh— David Khan 🇨🇦 (@Dave_Khan) April 6, 2019
The "laying pipe" phenomenon, as Khan called it on Twitter, started after a leader's debate on Thursday evening. Khan touted his work experience in defending his position on the expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
"I'm the only leader up here who's actually laid pipe in the Brooks area one summer in my undergrad, so I've actually built a pipeline," he said, as the magazine The Western Producer reported, calling Khan's pronouncement "a memorable one-liner."
WATCH: Alberta leaders go toe-to-toe in election debate. Story continues after video.
When the term "laying pipe" started trending on social media, the party ran with it, and quickly made hats and T-shirts featuring the slogan, which are available for sale on the party's Facebook page.
Laying pipe literally refers to the construction of a pipeline, Khan said. A machine builds a trench, a semi-truck drops off lengths of pipe, the pipes are welded together and laid on the ground before being dropped into the trench. Talking about laying pipe is "kind of like working on the railroad," Khan explained: it's an expression that's instantly evocative for oil patch workers.
Its double meaning is something many people who work in the oil fields are well-acquainted with.
Because the technical term for the construction equipment used to lower pipe into a trench is called a *pipelayer*, usually referred to as a sideboom. Here's a pic of three pipelayer sidebooms laying pipe. And yes, everyone in the pipeline world is aware of the double meaning. pic.twitter.com/Kr5u45effp— A. Braaten (@abraaten) April 7, 2019
Khan says he also learned that "laying pipe" is sometimes used as a euphemism for "having sex" while out at dinner with his team on Friday.
"It seems I was one of the only people in the dark on this," Khan said. "I guess most people know what it is but me."
Even Jason Kenney, leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party, ribbed him about it: "Mr. Kenney thought it was hilarious that I didn't look it up until Friday night," Khan said.
But he added that Kenney gave him props for using the term on Thursday night: "He even told me I had the best line of the debate."
We are taking orders for our #LayingPipe Hat and TShirt.— David Khan 🇨🇦 (@Dave_Khan) April 7, 2019
We will create jobs and boost the #Alberta economy by getting #TMX Pipeline built. @ABLiberal also want to reopen the conversation on the #EnergyEast pipeline to send #Alberta oil to central Canada. #ableg#abvotepic.twitter.com/Kli39XK3je
Another factor in the decision to run with the merch was to reclaim the red hat from U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters, Khan said.
"It's a bit of troll on Mr. Trump and his divisive, negative campaign hat, and taking back [the colour] red," he said.
Khan says he believes the term "laying pipe" will resonate with Alberta's residents. A party spokesperson added that the term is "a metaphor for the barometer of the political economy."
And if people respond to the sexual innuendo before the political platform, that's OK with him too.
"I really don't mean it that way, but if it means that people are reacting positively... then I think it's a good thing."
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