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COMMENTARY · 25th June 2010
Walter McFarlane
Hopefully, for the last time, Council has discussed Mayor Joanne Monaghan’s appearance in the Enbridge Brochure. Council has now committed to the Path of Least Resistance and as a governing body, has probably received the best possible outcome of the three which could have taken place.

The statement in the Brochure is an endorsement of the project. First off, it is in a Brochure which only really tells one side of the story, that of Enbridge. Second, there are endorsing statements within the context of the statement itself. They are underlined below.

“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.”

Before you say that I’m grasping at straws, let me point out several problems with this statement as neutral. The first problem here is much of the language used is positive, not neutral or even negative.

Second, when the statement talks about the review process, it hints this process could come out favourably for Enbridge rather then remain neutral.

Finally, the phrases which refer to the creation of jobs are the icing on the cake. This is a difficult time for Kitimat and the promise of jobs prey upon the readers needs to draw them to support the project.

Perhaps the worst part of this statement is the opening line, in laymen’s terms: Northern Gateway will give money to the government.

Taken to Council in June, you see how much Monaghan stands by this statement, interrupting her councillors, inserting snide remarks and even snapping at Gottschling. In the excerpts from “Land Mines of Being a Mayor,” written by George Cuff himself, Cuff states that leaders have to rise above pettiness and the position of Mayor should be held in high regard.

“Regardless of how tempting, or how justifiable given the antics of others, a mayor begins to squander his or her leadership quotient whenever civility succumbs to pettiness and vindictiveness,” wrote Cuff.

The resolution was perhaps the best one the people of Kitimat could have hoped for. Regardless of what Feldhoff said, an endorsement of the blanket statement in the brochure would have been endorsement of the project because 1: the statement was an endorsement and 2: it was in a brochure endorsing the project.

Had the motion of endorsement passed, it would have opened the door for further endorsements which have made Council look like they had endorsed the Enbridge project.

Remaining neutral is difficult given the scope of the project and the division which it has already created in the community. What happens next is in Council’s hands as it is now up to them to remain neutral on the project and not appear in publications which are in favour or opposed to the project.