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REPORTING · 22nd December 2010
Walter McFarlane
At the City Council Meeting on Monday, December 20th a letter from Ross Hoffman, Chair of the First Nations Studies Program at UNBC, was discussed. Hoffman is asking Mayor Joanne Monaghan to Co-Host an educational forum on the Enbridge Gateway project.

The idea is to have speakers representing three sides of the issue: Someone who is in favour of the project, someone who is opposed, and a representative of the First Nations. The forum would be moderated by the University.

“I said I would not do it and Trafford decided to give it to you, to the Council, to decide whether I should or not. So there it is,” said Monaghan.

Goffinet made a motion to discuss the issue which was accepted by the Councillors. He said it comes from UNBC, the chair of the First Nations Studies Program which is neutral on the project as well. He said they wish to host a public forum in Kitimat with a person who supports the project, a community representative, which does not support the project and a representative from the First Nations.

He suggested the forum was to look at both sides of the issue objectively. He suggested the Mayor was to be a co-host not to participate or speak. He did not see it as a break in their neutral motion so long as these were the ground rules.

“I think we should be encouraging public debate with both sides of the issue in a public forum,” said Goffinet. “I know a lot of people really want to know both sides of this issue so I would hope that if we entertain this, we would not be taking one side or the other but participating along with the community and listening to both sides of the issue.”

Councillor Corinne Scott agreed reiterating how UNBC was facilitating public education forums from Prince George to Prince Rupert; that they were not asking the Mayor to take a stance. It would be co-hosting and she suggested the Mayor would greet people and that was all there was to it for the Mayor.

Monaghan was worried she would be seen sitting all night at a table at the front of the room and this could be seen as being in favour of one side or the other. She wished to remain neutral on the subject.

Acting Municipal Manager Walter McLellan stated he did not read it this way. It was UNBC’s forum. Monaghan suggested they table this and get clarification. The tabling motion was moved and carried.