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COMMENTARY · 8th August 2010
Walter McFarlane
Dark Clouds on a Bright Summer’s Day: Part 4

Walter McFarlane, writer for the Kitimat Daily glanced at the other reporters in the room wondering how they had been able to keep a straight face through all of this before biting his lip and continuing to type. “If they disagree with what Councillor Gottschling said,” he thought to himself. “Then why are they going to such trouble to prove him right.”

Gottschling had argued the rules of conduct were not being followed and Councillors were arguing. This was followed by more breaking the rules of conduct and more Councillors arguing.

Long story short: Gottschling provided Council with a report and intended to speak to it. Councillor Mario Feldhoff beat him to the punch. This appeared intentional as Feldhoff had nothing to say to his motion and tried to cut Gottschling off several times. Gottschling read a prepared statement. Then Council began to argue again.

These events at Council are best summed up by an anonymous poster to our website who posted a great analogy which we cannot print because we do not know who posted it. ‘Ocean’ posted: “Here we are elected officials, still unaware of procedure and protocol at Council meetings. Sounding more like a grade 5 classroom. I had my hand up first, you talked too long, it's my turn, no it’s my turn, teacher, and they’re not playing fair. Kitimat is going to be a city of empty homes and business's and Council will be completely oblivious. Is there an agenda to screw Kitimat by one or more council members? They are doing more to destroy Kitimat’s hopes than the departure of Methanex and Eurocan.”

Ocean also requested the community come together to embrace Enbridge… But there in lies the problem. Enbridge is great… or is terrible depending on how you see things. However, we cannot accept that someone else might have an opinion which differs from our own. All arguments have counter arguments and no one can take the time to see eye to eye with each other without trying to gouge an eye out.

The City Council is made up from 7 different people with 7 different backgrounds who see the world through 7 different sets of eyes. They are not going to agree all the time. The problem is, Kitimat is a community divided. We drew lines over power sales and once again, we are drawing lines over Enbridge and our Council reflects this.

So what is the problem? Well, since 2009, The Mayor and the Council appear to have conflicting agendas. Monaghan is endorsing projects such as Enbridge without Council’s approval and has even gone against the will of Council when she presented to the Northern Development Initiative Trust on Kemano Modernization. Remember, Council passed a motion in summer 2009 to oppose power sales.

“Further advancement of the Kemano Powerhouse should be encouraged through the incentives such as the 2007 Energy Purchase Agreement between BC Hydro and Rio Tinto Alcan to increase excess power at the facility while maintaining full production of the smelter in Kitimat,” read the slide she presented too.

The speaking notes suggested by increasing the output of Kemano as well as the North West Transmission Line, Rio Tinto would be able to supply power to mining facilities while being able to maintain the power level at the smelter. Yet when Gottschling mentioned this to her at the Council, she made the slide sound less like increasing power and more like general maintenance.

“I did not say to have Kemano Completion finished, what I said was that the pump house at Kemano had to be refurbished and to get completed. This is not a place to go into a bunch of rhetoric…” said Monaghan when Gottschling mentioned slide 21 on August 3rd.

Look at the bolded words above… I’m speechless…

It was defiantly odd to hear the word ‘Liar’ thrown around the Council Chambers again. This had happened before. In January, Gottschling was interrogating Monaghan in the Council Chambers after it appeared she had asked the Provincial Government for little to no money to help fund the viability study. Gottschling was asking Councillors who were involved in the study to confirm what he had told. Monaghan on the other hand maintained she had asked for the full amount.

Council dissolved into a shouting match and Monaghan exclaimed: “Are you calling me a Liar?”

McLellen had stood and said: “Actually madam Mayor, I understand this came up before and words were used that were unparliamentarily and in our system is a number of words you can’t use, “idiot” is one, “inspired by 40 broad whiskey” is always one of my favourites but "Liar" has been on the list since the 1800’s so it’s a word that simply can’t be used. If it is used, the person realizes it and says “withdraw the word” and moves on without using that word.”

“Ok,” said Monaghan, “I’ll say: ‘Do you think I’m a stranger to the truth then?’”

“That’s on the list too,” added McLellen.

So there we have it. Words exchanged, accusations made, characters assassinated and the Council moves on. But unfortunately, this proved only to be the eye of the storm and it would not take long for the winds to blow again.