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Dieter Wagner took the stand at the Council Meeting on Monday, June 7th to speak about the Enbridge Brochure which was mailed out to every household in the region.
“This brochure passes a lot of misinformation and promises about marine aspects and safety which cannot be kept and over which Enbridge has absolutely no control. Enbridge’s involvement with crude oil ends at the tank farm. We know nothing to date about the shipper. But what really has me upset about the brochure is the picture of Madam Mayor in the brochure wearing her regalia of office,” said Wagner.
He said, “As such, she represents the council and the people of Kitimat.” He stated she supported the project as long as it could be done in an environmentally sustainable way. He said the sustainability was irrelevant to the Enbridge project.
“The damage is done; Madam Mayor had and has no endorsement from Council or the Community to promote the project. We have seen Gordon Campbell on TV stating that he knows 75% of the population of British Columbia is opposed to crude oil tanker traffic in our coastal water,” said Wagner, “That percentage has now gone over 80 but Mr. Campbell said he does not care, he knows best.”
He quoted Riki Ott about the multinational corporations high jacking the government. He asked Council to prove to the world that will not happen to the Kitimat Council. He said the Enbridge project could destroy this part of the world with one super tanker break up. He reminded Council of what is going on in the Gulf.
He accused Enbridge of providing ludicrous statistics over the likelihood of a spill. He said Douglas Channel had some of the more dangerous aspects in the world and could not be compared to other shipping routes. He said he learned of two other spills, one in the Gulf in 1979; the same type happening now except at only 200 feet and another on the 28th of May this year on the Alaska Pipeline spilling 5000 barrels of oil. He wanted to know where the new improved technologies were to deal with the spills. He promised to make a presentation to council later.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff mentioned the joint review panel had just started their work last weekend and asked if Wagner had any faith in this board. Wagner replied he did not as one of the people on the panel members was from the oil industry. He hoped they saw the lies from the presentations from all the groups on the oil industry.
Monaghan thanked him for the presentation and said: “At no time have I ever endorsed Enbridge. Ever, ever…”
She said if he were to read that, it said she and Council were waiting for the review and at that point Council would make up their minds. Wagner reminded her that being in her regalia in the brochure would indicate to people she was in full support of the project.
“The only reason that picture is in there is because I have not had my official photo taken yet this year. That was the only one they found. You can believe me or not but that’s ok,” said Monaghan.
Wagnar thanked her for the opportunity and sat down.COASTAL FIRST NATIONS ASK FOR JOINT COOPERATION ON GULF TOUR
Towards the end of the meeting the Kitimat Council discussed an invitation by the Coastal First Nations to see, first hand, the devastation of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The trip would be paid for by Coastal First Nations
“I move that we respectfully decline the offer that has been given to us,” motioned Councillor Mario Feldhoff. “The Coastal First Nations who have invited us have taken a very strong position against the project and aren’t showing any support in the review progress which is currently underway. […] I don’t want to be, in the same way that the Mayor has been painted with the brush in the pamphlet, rightly or wrongly, I don’t want to be painted with the brush participating, ambulance chasing if you will, in the Gulf.”
He said there were serious issues in the Gulf that Enbridge and the review panel should be taking seriously while Council should be educating themselves so they could either speak in favour or against the project. He suggested Enbridge should also look at adding value to the products. He said he did not want people thinking the Council was opposed to Enbridge for participating in the tour.
Councillor Randy Halyk wanted to know if the First Nations were concerned with the project or how to mitigate the issue on the coastline. He said it would make sense to learn about mitigating an oil spill although he was uncertain what a Mayor or Councillor could do after a spill like the Gulf. He said he didn’t believe the Chiefs were only going down to find ways to oppose the project.
Feldhoff said the trip would be provided by the Coastal First Nations and just like they were advised to not take money from Enbridge, they should not take money from other groups. Goffinet agreed and referred to how the public perceives Council’s actions, which were brought up earlier this night. He suggested Councillors being funded by one side or the other was inappropriate.
“I think we have tried to say that we are looking at both sides, that we are trying to find out which is the truth, what is best for our community and this process will take upwards of two years and I would like to try and keep as open a mind as I can, listen to people in town because there is a huge division in opinion. I don’t want to be perceived as taking one side or the other so both sides of the issue will feel comfortable haranguing me and bending my arm because I want know what they’re thinking and why. I think we should not take a trip from an opponent or a proponent.
Municipal Manager Trafford Hall chimed in. He agreed they should not accept money but they should also consider learning all they can. He said he was visited by a member of Haisla Council who explained this is for education. He explained this was a sensitive issue and they are at a point where they should take the time and listen. He said there would be no problem in going if the Councillor paid for it himself as it would show they are interested in these matters.
Hall stated at the same time, it was an opportunity to demonstrate Council is sensitive to their side of the story even if they disagree with their side. “It is through mutual enterprise that we get to know each other and we don’t have enough mutual enterprise. Maybe you’re going to come out on different points of view. But maybe you want to look at the information which arrives to make those points of view,” said Hall.
Gottschling wanted to know if there was a Councillor who was interested and if there was a Councillor who would be willing to pay their own fare. He expressed he was concerned with tainting themselves by accepting the air fare. He said they should still try and learn how the community would be affected in the case of a spill and he did not wish to shut the door.
Hall said this is really a matter of whether Council wishes to send someone, who will go and who will pay. The obvious answer for the last being the District of Kitimat on the Councillors Travel budget. The question was called and negated. Councillors Feldhoff, Goffinet and Mayor Monaghan were in favour of declining.
Gottschling made the motion to participate. On inquiry, the amount of time was suggested to be about a week and could cost $5,000. Gottschling said they should at least show an effort to say yes. Halyk suggested all the Councillors paying for the airfare to reduce diminishing one Councillors travel budget. The motion was called and negated. In favour were Councillors Corless, Gottschling, Halyk with the other three opposed. This meant the DOK has declined the Haisla invitation to accompany the Coastal First Nations on the trip to the Gulf, even when paying their own expenses.MAYOR MONAGHAN FACES ENBRIDGE BROCHURE BACKLASH
The final item of Council was put forward by Mayor Joanne Monaghan under new business and speaking to the topic of Enbridge she expressed what it was about.
“I know that the Council hasn’t discussed Enbridge, we have not made a decision on Enbridge. What are we going to do? We have to talk about it so it’s on the table and I open it up for discussion,” said Monaghan.
This lead to verbal confusion from both Councillor Mario Feldhoff, who requested a Notice of Motion, and from Councillor Bob Corless, who expressed himself with one word, “What?” Monaghan explained this had been on the agenda but it never made it into the Council Package due to an error.
Feldhoff requested Monaghan re-read the comment which she had made in the Enbridge brochure which was mailed out to households in Kitimat. He said it was a reasonable statement and suggested Council endorse it at this time.
”Northern Gateway would provide a predictable revenue stream for local government and jobs for both aboriginal and non aboriginal people in the community, as well as opening the door for new marine occupations for coastal communities. As we look at the opportunities that may create jobs, we also have to recognize that it must be done in an environmentally sustainable way. If the environmental review process confirms that no harm will be done, these are the kind of direct community benefits that I would like to see happen in Kitimat and along the shipping route,” read Monaghan from the brochure.
Feldhoff motioned Council’s endorsement of the statement so they could move forward. Councillor Rob Goffinet did not like this motion.
“In effect, at the end of the meeting with no previous notice, we are taking an extremely important decision. It will be perceived after this evening by components of the community to be an endorsation or a half way endorsation, a warming up, a rephrasing of the good points of this particular economic development proposal. We have, I think assiduously and carefully not broached this subject for a reason. Without preparation, no warning, we’re in effect endorsing what people in the community, I mean, a centre piece photograph statement in the proponents brochure. We are now going to endorse that statement in the centre of the proponent’s brochure. I would say that was ill advised at the end of a long meeting with no notice that we were actually going to join this issue. We heard at the beginning of this meeting, people in the community, that are a sizable component of our community perceiving, that photo and that quote in a certain way. If we at the end of the meeting with no warning endorse that we are in favour of that, we’re automatically in some ways, showing to people some people in our community that our objectivity is possibly questionable. I say we should back off, listen to both sides and not endorse any statement because what we have been told is, you were not making that as the Mayor. I take that, now this motion is to in fact make it a statement of Council and the Mayor has gone to great lengths to say that was her personal point of view, and she was not making it as the Mayor of this Council. This motion in effect would make us endorse that point of view on behalf of council. I would say…” he began to continue before he was interrupted.
Monaghan called a point of order. She said she wanted it on the agenda. “I put it on because I am hearing constantly from, and you know that, from my councillor, my Council, that we have not discussed Enbridge, we don’t know where we are going with Enbridge, why are we not discussing it, so that’s why I put it on, it was supposed to be on here, it did not get on this time” said Monaghan.
She suggested making it a notice of motion for the next regular meeting. “But I want direction because every time I open up my mouth, I get slaughtered for it and I don’t like it, ok?” said Monaghan.
Feldhoff made a tabling motion. Councillor Gerd Gottschling spoke up saying this motion was ill advised. Monaghan told him to hold what he was saying because there was a tabling motion on the table but after recalling there was no seconder she permitted Gottschling to continue to speak. Feldhoff muttered that she didn’t ask for a seconder.
“The issue is the code of conduct. We talked about code of conduct. What the Mayor can do, what the Mayor shouldn’t do. I think the thing is this is a case where the Mayor again broke the code of conduct,” said Gottschling.
Monaghan interjected before he could say another word: “No I didn’t […] I believe you are out of order because that is not what we are talking about, we are talking about Enbridge,” said Monaghan while Gottschling tried to continue.
“I think that’s exactly what we’re talking about,” said Gottschling
“No we’re not,” said Monaghan.
“We’re talking about how the Mayor spoke in the office of Mayor on behalf of Council with her regalia and her chain of office around her neck and that makes you Mayor. That is perceived whether you like it or not…” said Gottschling.
“And don’t like that statement?” interrupted the Mayor, “you don’t like jobs?”
“What I am saying to you right now is that when we just voted against participating in a learning experience with the Haisla. We are being perceived as endorsing one over the other. I think […] that’s not very wise. And therefore I think, by bringing a controversial topic on like that when Council isn’t even prepared is even more so, ill advised. What I’m saying to you is …” said Gottschling before Monaghan interrupted him again.
Feldhoff interrupted Monaghan’s interruption to make the tabling motion again. He said the tabling motion would be able to reflect upon what Monaghan has been saying. He wanted to focus on the language rather then the vision and by tabling it, they would be able to bring it forward at the next regular meeting.
Councillor Randy Halyk spoke next. “The whole point here is that your likeness with your chain of office is in a pamphlet that promotes this project. Now I don’t care whether or not I’m in favour of [the project] or not. I don’t believe that anybody on this table here cares one way or the other whether they believe in this project or not. It’s whether or not you have the right to tell the world that the Council and all of Kitimat is in favour of this without us discussing it.” said Halyk.
“Yes, I do have that right,” said Monaghan not even waiting for him to finish speaking.
Hall then interrupted and referred to discussions on this topic, which had been quite extensive at a previous Council retreat. He suggested they go into a Committee of the Whole to talk about the role of the Mayor which is what Councillors were speaking too. Hall said on the current issue, they could pass a tabling motion or request it come back as notice of motion.
Monaghan called the question and the tabling motion was carried; they will discuss this again at the next regular, public sitting of Kitimat Council.
Councillor Halyk points to the picture and describes how the public might take this as an official DOK position
Councillor Feldoff suggests the Council simply accept this as a unified position without debate
Councillor Gottschling claimed the Mayor has compromised the Council and her position
The controversial picture and statement the Mayor has been forced to defend.