rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

It can't help oil patch campaign that 'Bernard the Roughneck' appeared in 2014 theatrical production

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Neal Hancock

It turns out the young man who acted last Wednesday as the public face of the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors' press conference in Ottawa has additional experience as an amateur thespian.

Mainstream media, and the CBC in particular, gave credible reviews to Neal Bernard Hancock's performance at the press conference last week, repeatedly airing his statement in the persona of "Bernard the Roughneck" that "I'm not a guy who's knowledgeable about public policy or the processes that go on in buildings like this; I'm a roughneck."

Mr. Hancock, 32, is unquestionably a real oil patch worker and he seems sincere in his beliefs.

Nevertheless, it cannot have helped the credibility of the effort by CAODC President Mark Scholz and Lakeland Conservative Member of Parliament Shannon Stubbs to introduce a petition apparently designed put the prime minister in an awkward political spot that it was so quickly revealed their key spokesperson majored in media, communications, history and political studies at Bishop's University in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

Nor can the now-emerging additional revelation that Mr. Hancock had the leading role in a 2014 amateur theatrical company's production in the rural region much help the CAODC's cause.

Google searches by curious social media users turned up the reference to Mr. Hancock's theatrical star turn in a Jan. 14, 2014, advance story by the Journal Regional le Haut-Saint-Francoise, published in Cookshire-Eaton, Que.

The play, William Stone's Leg, written by Eastern Townships playwright Marlene Lowry of Sawyerville and performed in English, tells the story of the first major surgery in Canadian history in which ether was used as an anesthetic. The operation was done in 1847 in the nearby community of Eaton Corner on a young shoemaker, whose leg was amputated.

"The leading roles -- William Stone and his wife Olive Stone -- are played by Neal Hancock and Bethany Rothney," wrote Journal Regional reporter Rachel Garber.

"Hancock is a student at Bishop's University, in his last year in politics," Ms. Garber noted in her story. "He's enthusiastic about his character. 'Will Stone is a boot maker. He's a guy with a sense of humour, considering all that happens to him.'"

A picture accompanying the story shows Mr. Hancock with his co-star in nineteenth-century style garb.

While the paper did not review it, the production, which premiered the next evening in the Sawyerville Community Centre, was a success, Ms. Garber told me in an email yesterday evening. "Yes, the production went ahead as planned, and Neal did a fine job," she wrote.

Funds raised by the performance went to the Eaton Corner Museum.

More recently, Mr. Hancock has shown up at public hearings of the National Energy Board into the Kinder Morgan Pipeline in British Columbia and at the CAODC's press conference in Ottawa dressed in his oilfield work gear, a red hardhat and blue coveralls, where he has been photographed and interviewed by journalists.

The right-wing video commentary site, Rebel Media, has been pushing the Bernard the Roughneck persona hard, marketing mugs and T-shirts with Mr. Hancock's image on them.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.