Alberta workers unwelcome in N.B.

SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Albertans go home!

Dozens of Alberta workers are being flown back from New Brunswick after being swarmed by protesters from the local workforce, who claim the westerners stole their jobs.

A number of tradespeople from the Alberta-based contractor Integral Energy Service Ltd. were flown to Saint John 10 days ago after being hired by the engineering firm SNC-Lavalin to help complete the Canaport Liquefied Natural Gas plant, belonging to Irving Oil.

But a growing group of protesters gathered outside Hotel Courtenay Bay where up to 100 Alberta workers were staying until being pulled from the project and transported to Moncton, where they were scheduled to fly home on Friday.

"For a few days, it was maybe 20 of them, but it started to escalate to the point where there were hundreds of them yelling and blowing air horns," said Calgary electrician Graham Kvigstad.

"They would stand in front of the bus and prevent us from leaving. We left an hour early for work on Monday without them knowing and they didn’t like that so much so when we came back that evening, they just started sprinting toward the bus yelling and spitting and screaming."

Andrew Dawson, Atlantic Canada representative for the Canadian Office of the Building and Construction Trades Department, called the protests a cry for help.

"We have an abundance of local workers; our government spends millions of dollars training people to be tradesmen," said Dawson, adding he thinks the out-of-province workers were brought in to keep budget costs down.

"You’re building it under our noses while we’re sitting here looking for work."

SNC-Lavalin has issued a statement saying it was disappointed with the protests.