REPORTING · 25th June 2010
The First Motion which came before council on Monday, June 26th was the topic of the Enbridge Brochure. This was hot topic at the last two Council meetings as it was discussed as being a breach of protocol by Mayor Joanne Monaghan.
Council had so far remained neutral on the subject but then the Mayor appeared in a pro pipeline publication produced by the proponent in her full Mayoral Regalia with a statement which was seen as endorsing the project.
Although Council was blindsided by a motion which had not been printed in their packages at the meeting on June 7th, they went ahead with in anyway and came to a decision to table whether or not they endorsed this statement until the 26th. On the 26th, Monaghan called for a motion and there was a moment of silence before Councillor Mario Feldhoff spoke up.
“That we endorse the Mayor making that kind of statement and we move forward,” motioned Feldhoff. “My impression is that some councillors are of the opinion that our Mayor cannot say anything unless she is speaking for Council as a whole. I’ve read the same books that they have referred to and I see that we have a subsequent motion to get some guidance from Mr. Cuff, the author of the book. I don’t see… My interpretation of what I’ve read is not quite as restrictive and if you take a close look at what she stated which appears in Enbridge’s Bulletin, I welcome debate on any particular sentence. I think that the concluding statement the Mayor makes is quite reasonable.”
Feldhoff read the line: “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”
He added that everyone in the community wanted the environmental aspects of the project to be scrutinized.
“Not everybody in our community wants to wait for the process to unfold. Some people are taking strong positions right now saying no to tankers, no to oil, no to this, in the same way that people did this and shut down KCP [the Kemano Completion Project] back in 95,” said Feldhoff.
He wanted to see the Joint Review Panel respond to the issues before people evaluate the project. He added he wished to go before the panel to address topics including the potential to create value added products and he was not going to condemn the project without first seeing the recommendations the Joint Review Panel makes.
He also commented on Kinder Morgan’s entry into the process as they are in direct competition with the Enbridge Pipeline. He said he did not wish to see people from far away directing the activities which go on in this community. He added he did not wish to have the Enbridge Project divide the community.
“I would hope that we would work together in putting our concerns forward to the Joint Review Panel and give that process an opportunity to comeback and make recommendations and then to accept those recommendations, that’s my personal opinion,” said Feldhoff.
Councillor Richard McLaren said he felt the statements were decent, on one side, the Mayor was expressing concerns over employment while on the other side, she was expressing concerns about the environment.
Councillor Rob Goffinet on the other hand was not going to take this motion lightly. “I take seriously what we are doing right now. I believe in the debate so far, we are mixing two things up. Does the Mayor or any Councillor have the ability to speak their mind. That’s not the motion. The motion is: “we endorse the Mayor making that kind of statement.” This is a very imprecise motion because what kind of statement are we voting on? This debate is focusing upon one that waited for the process that has begun to see if the environmental assessment process or joint review panel comes up with a recommendation… and we move forward,” said Goffinet.
He said: if the Joint Review Panel is going to arrive at the conclusion in 18 months, why is Council taking a position now to endorse the statement with out knowing the end result. He reminded them they were going to wait to evaluate the project. He said if they were to endorse a blanket statement in the proponent’s brochure, they could be accused of redisence to oppose.
He added: the community should active in the Joint Review Panel while listening to the other sides of the story and Council should read the report before making any motions to endorse the project. He wanted Council to remain neutral.
“If we at this time at the beginning endorse a statement within the centrepiece of the proponent’s Brochure, we are going against our stated purpose. I say we should not pass this motion, that we move a motion that this Council is interested in the environmental assessment process and Joint review panel and with other interested people in the region and the community, would look and see what the results of that assessment is. We will evaluate it with the community and then, as a leadership group in our community, we will make up our mind whether this is a proposal or a project that would benefit or detract from the community we think we’re making,” said Goffinet.
He urged Council not to endorse or take sides in this project until they know the facts.
“I think you are saying basically, exactly what I was saying what your saying cause I was saying: ‘I’m not endorsing this, I’m wait and get all the facts first and that’s exactly what your saying, that is what I said,’” said Monaghan.
Councillor Gerd Gottschling explained the Mayors confusion seemed to be coming from whether or not the Mayor had the right to speak as the Mayor of Kitimat without first consulting with Council. He quoted Cuff from the Council’s notes for the meeting. The notes said the Mayor has the implied obligation to discuss with Council.
“What I am saying, Madam Mayor is we never went through that process. You went and had your statements made in that brochure without considering your Council’s concerns and just as Councillor Goffinet was saying, we are far from making decisions, one way or the other. By appearing in that brochure, you are basically including us in the interpretation. That you’re including the whole council in endorsing the project,” said Gottschling.
Monaghan insisted she did not endorse the project and said the Manager looked at it. She stated they needed jobs for the Aboriginal and Non Aboriginal communities but would not endorse the pipeline unless it was environmentally sound. She said the reason she wanted to discuss it at this time was so that the Council could tell her what to say, whether they are for or against it because if they do not, she will continue to say the same thing.
Gottschling stated that Goffinet put it clearly: there are concerns and he wanted to know if the decision would be made on fact.
“I’m very glad that you feel that way because that is exactly what I said. So thank you very much, I really do appreciate that,” exclaimed Monaghan in an I told you so tone of voice. The gallery did not feel the same way as she was booed until Parliamentarian, Walter McLellen stepped in.
Feldhoff closed. He agreed with the points raised by Goffinet but he felt they were not contrary to what the Mayor said in her statement and with their George Cuff motion next, they will get some clarity. However, he added that he believed there was nothing wrong with what the Mayor said.
“The Mayor does have the ability to show leadership and express a viewpoint that has not come before Council yet,” said Feldhoff. He reread the statement and asked for further feedback.
The motion was called. In favour were Councillor’s McLaren, Feldhoff and Monaghan. Opposed were Goffinet, Gottschling and Councillor Bob Corless who had yet to speak. The motion was negated but another motion was about to hit the table.
Gottschling holds up the book written by George Cuff. He quoted Cuff in explaining the Brochure as a breach of protocol
Feldhoff stuck by the Mayor through out the meeting. He stated he saw nothing wrong with her statement.
Comment by Larry Thompson on 25th June 2010
I am looking at this article from my new job location at a remote camp 1.5 hours south of Fort McMurray. I feel that there has been a lot of time wasted on this subject. There is nothing wrong with what the mayor stated in the brochure. If she is endorsing the return of good paying jobs which might help pull Kitimat out of the Toilet then good on her! P.S. I would also like to say hi to my wife and kids who I miss very much while I'm away helping produce the "scary" OIL that we all use every day.
This is just typical of our community