CONTRIBUTION · 2nd November 2011
I`ve always been perplexed by the public position taken by our Council and Mayor regarding support for the proposed Enbridge project. Its one thing for our elected representatives to be cautious in their support.
On the one hand Council owes the community, the detractors and the environment at least this level of due diligence. On the other hand Council needs to be cautious because the community and supporters don`t deserve to have this opportunity dismissed out of hand either. The part of all this that bothers me is that after having made their position public, I`ve yet to read about anything Council is doing to get the answers they say they need in order for them to take a position in support or not.
How can this elected body sit back as others conduct reviews and lobbyists attempt to sway public support one way or the other? This project is proposed for our backyard and so why haven`t we insisted on being players in this process and taken a public position on what it would take to support this project. I agree with Phil Germuth in that this project is about risk versus return.
Our Council`s position implies on the surface that they will wait and see what the final review says regarding risk to the environment and presumeably consider this risk in the context of what the project will bring to our community. I say rather than wait for all these others to work their way to their final review, our Council should stand up and publicly state what they need by way of safeguards and return to the community in order for them to support it.
I know people have been asking for simple yes or no answers from our Council but I don`t agree with that approach. If I`m in favour I don`t want my interests simply disregarded and conversely, if I`m against I don`t want Council to disregard my opinion either. Elected bodies need to represent the interests of their constituents, all of them regardless of personal bias. This often means that successful politicians govern to the middle in an attempt to try to keep everyone happy.
For much of the business at hand this approach works but for some of the business its not as easy as that. When issues come up that are particularly sensitive its important that our politicians make decisions that reflect the wishes of the constituents. Prior to making these decisions they need to do their due diligence, consultation and politicing but in the end they are there to decide on whats best for their constituents.
In the end they might have to suck it up and vote against how they feel personnally for the sake of the community but thats life. If the issue is important enough to them and they can`t support what the public wants then Councilors and Mayor have the option to resign on principle. My point is that Mayor and Council need to develop their own position on this and other important issues, do their due diligence, consultation and politicing and take a real position not sit back and let others do the work while they wait, not wanting to upset one side or the other.
I think most reasonable people will tend to respect decisions made if they believe our representatives are doing their homework first and giving all sides respect in the process. The other part of this process is that we want to see our Council advocating on behalf of the community`s needs and wants, once again not sitting back waiting for others to determine our fate.
In closing, I can understand the difficulties politicians face making certain decisions but that`s really too bad, it comes with the position. The final decision Council is able to make on really sensitive issues after the process runs it course is that certain decisions really don`t belong to a Mayor and Council. For these decisions the process is quite clear. Democracy gives every eligible voter one vote and at the end of the day we all live with the decision of the people. Yes, what I`m saying is that if you can`t make a decision put it back to the people of Kitimat to tell you which direction to take.
Comment by mary on 6th November 2011
my sentiments exactly...what have i been saying...We accepted the risk with the LNG, and what do you mean behind a mountain...well what about the waters..you may feel secure, but if there is an explosion on the waters...no need to worry about the fish!! Oh and don't worry about the land either...mitigate the risk!
Comment by Mike Forward on 6th November 2011
AN, I think you misunderstood my point. I am not stating that Council should await the decision of the JRP and make a yes/no decision from there. Quite the contrary-I am saying that even if it is our intention to say "no" (which I believe it is), that Council needs to wait until all the official reports are in before stating so. Due process needs to take its course, and again, this has nothing to do with Enbridge or saying yes to them specifically-it is about setting a precedent for other interested commercial investors who will be curious to know if they will be heard out or be told there are no vacancies. That is my point; not that we should wait and say yes in the end, but that we need to wait until the official reviews are complete before saying "thanks but no thanks".
Merv, I am left a little confused by your response. I am fully aware that the metaphor in play did not include spouses-what I was saying was that would the person in question (DOK) be disrespected if they checked with their spouse (the Citizens of Kitimat) before saying yay or nay to the people asking them to go out for a beer (Enbridge).
Your opinion on referendums is yours to have, although given the popular response from many of the audience members at the debate, it would seem that there are at least a few people out there who support the idea. You personally may not believe in it, but there are still others who do. We only just recently saw how that can effect change with the HST Referendum.
On relationships and referendums
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 6th November 2011
First, I do not believe in referendums anymore, only a secret ballot for representatives selected by the people. We should be selecting our brightest, most knowledgable, to represent us. Referendums are not wise. The media, as we can see, does not fully inform and the commercials, infomercials are now all one and the same. You simply cannot expect the majority of the people to understand the issues. This is due to them getting only partial information.
It is a different story for those we select, because we know they make good decisions, to vote on the issues on our behalf. And they cannot be put in a position where their decision is exposed to the vagaries of corruption
On relationships, everyone has their own. The example was only designed to demonstrate the weakness and insecurity of those who bend to anothers will without respecting themselves. It had nothing to do with spouses.
Re: Smoke signals
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 6th November 2011
Mr.Forward you have made some good points, but I must disagree with you for certain reasons. First off ,what exactly must we wait for ,it is not as if the Oil industry is a new business and we must learn more about what is involved in transporting oil over 1000 km. The oil industry has been around for over a century and yes it has gotten better and safer,but the consequences of a spill are always the same. Devastating I might say.We all know the perils of pipe line transportation , New technology is only as safe as its weakest link eg .Humans and cost factor. Humans will be humans and cost trumps everything else in the end. Costs as in maintenance and achieving the corporations high rate of return on their investment. . Fudged maintenance documents seem to be a common theme in most catastrophies.We have seen time and time again how ill prepared anyone is for a spill ,look at the gulf of mexico . People may think things are fine because they don't hear about it on TV any more but there is a ton of oil floating below the surface around the gulf ,but you know what they say out of sight out of mind.Same as the nuclear reactor in Japan ,radio activity making its way towards us along with a debris field the size of Vancouver island. I understand people are hungry for well paying jobs but lets go after jobs such as a Copper smelter or Steel smelter or possibly entice RTA to set up some sort of secondary industry to use their Aluminum or at the very least they may be able to entice another company to set up in the area to use their Aluminum. These are all things that were on the drawing board way back when I was in my late teens. I think the people of Kitimat have done their part to welcome industry with open arms. Approx.30 years ago they had talked about an LNG plant in kitimat ,It would have been only the 2nd one in all of North America at the time if I am not mistaken. And the reason there were so few is because of how dangerous they are and nobody wanted them. I have my reservations about them ,at least Apache is behind a mountain but if shell oil puts one at the methanex plant this concerns me a great deal because if for some reason there was an explosion it would create a blast the size of a small nuclear bomb but we can find fault in anything if we try hard enough. Bottom line for me is water is precious and with out drinking water we are doomed , there are just too many rivers they have to cross with the pipe line and In my opinion their isn't enough new technology in pipe building to make me feel safe and no pipe can with stand the forces of an earth quake.
enbridge good or bad
Comment by mary murphy on 6th November 2011
The Enbridge pipeline, has too many risks, which outweighs the benefits. I am willing to sit down with the government, the industry and communities to insure environmental laws are upgraded and risks are addressed. We have a huge appetite for this commodity, and I don't hear any solutions, we need to be part of the future building in order to address the huge environmental concerns.
That means being part of what we perceive as the projected good and bad changes.
Comment by Mike Forward on 6th November 2011
Merv, I see the point in which you are making. If I could add on thing to the example - if the guy is asked to go out for a beer after work even after promising his wife he would be home, would he be less respected if he checked with his wife first if it would be acceptable?
I think most of the candidates for Council (and the imumbents) have let it be known in one way or another that they share the town's grave concerns with the project. I don't think it shows weakness of character to allow the due process to take its course, and I think the due process (as was mentioned many times at the debate) ought to include a referendum so the will of Kitimat is reflected.
As a compromise, the referendum could be ordered before the completion of the JRP, and thatfrom my perspectivewould be the due process needed for Council to makes its decision. Ultimately, its the will of the people that needs to be listened to. But until such a time as that can be officially placed on the table, I believe it is important for Council to remain neutral until all the answers are in, not as a signal to Enbridge, but to other investors.
Mike - Saying no shows strength of character
Comment by Merv Ritchie on 6th November 2011
This is a good post and demonstrates good insight. What is important with this issue is two things. The proper management of democracy and the demonstration of intelligence and strength of character.
What I mean by intelligence and strength can be demonstrated by considering your various personal relationships. Some will recognize many close friends are willing to say yes every time they are asked to participate in anything. They do this generally because they want to be liked. It is a character trait of insecurity and is seen when it is not in a person best interest yet they go along.
Example; A guy gets asked out for beer after work with friends. He says yes even though he told his wife he would be home, making excuses to himself, he'll just stay for one, just wanting to be one of the guys. Or a gal joins a group of girls shopping even though she knows her spouse and her are saving/struggling to meet the mortgage payment. She doesn't want to be ostracized.
An individual that politely said, "sorry guys, I told my wife I'd be home, gotta go" might be jeered at a bit but in the end is far more respected by the guy's, and the gal will likely be envied by the girls as she states her hubby and her are saving for something better, that she'll catch up with them maybe in a couple weeks.
The person who is able to say no is much more respected than one who says yes at everything.
Kitimat has said yes to many many projects. No industry in the world could rightly claim Kitimat wasn't open to business. However if Kitimat said no to this project and detailed the reasons, the next venture would recognize a town of strength and would know this town was a responsible town and wouldn't be a push over. Yes men are despised men.
And as for democracy, we elect representatives in secret because we believe they will act in our best interests. The elected reps have all the information from various sources, not just the minor and sensational stuff reported in the media. We must trust them to make the right decisions, also in secret. Making their vote public exposes the entire system to bribery and retribution.
As in the same example, we all know girls and guys who will start a campaign to alienate and ostracize, using their weak friends to intimidate and bully others. Usually the real bully is hidden behind the scene. As in the case of Enbridge, they have been using the CAB process to organize the friends and bullies, to cuddle up to some and shun others.
I prefer strong independent people who can think for themselves and are willing to say "Not a chance buddy, I have never risked driving after a few drinks and I am not going to start now. Sure I likely won't get pulled over, but accidents happen. Then what?" and this is good character, "Nope, you go ahead, it's not worth the risk for me. Now, just where is that 'Cab'".
Comment by susan on 4th November 2011
I don't understand when people are against enbridge, and they cite the tanker that is off the coast of New Zealand. I understand that it can create a huge enviromental problem, but we have freighters going up and down the channel as it is. Do you not see the boats docked at RTA? When the LNG plants are up and ready, where does the gas get loaded onto? Bingo, freighters!
I realize that this is a very emotional topic for people, but we have to think with our head at times.
Comment by Mike Forward on 4th November 2011
If I could speak hypothetically for a moment, let's just assume that never, ever, under any circumstance could Enbridge sweeten the pot enough for Kitimat to accept it. No promise of more jobs, refineries, etc. would ever get it done-our intent would be to say no, never, nyet.
Even in that scenario, awaiting the JRP's decision-and other due process-is important, because DOK's position on that is not only a signal to Enbridge, but to other potential commercial investors.
As was brought up at the debate last night, Enbridge is a big company. Their desire to move here has made other big companies stand up and take notice. As another candidate said, the eyes of the world are watching-and that also means that they are watching the DOK and how they react.
Enbridge itself might not be something we can ever embrace, but other potential commercial investors could be.
So here's my point; if DOK slapped up the no vacancy sign before allowing the due process to be completed, what sort of signal does that send to other commercial investors? It would be a little dangerous, in my opinion, to turn a business away before we've had a chance to hear (in full detail) all the ins, outs, pros and cons of their proposal.
Even if at the end of the day we still say no, it is important to signal to other businesses that we will give them a chance to lay out their proposal in full before making a decision on it. It's not all about "just Enbridge", it's about setting the table for future investment.
Comment by al on 2nd November 2011
Dogwood Initiative has stated that more than 4000 people have signed up to speak about Enbridge, 100o was their goal, 558 speakers was the previous record for this type of public forum,
hang on Enbridge, the ride may have just begun
I'm against Enbridge
Comment by Gerry Hummel on 2nd November 2011
For weeks now off the coast of New Zealand the country has sat and watched in disbelief as a freighter (much smaller than an oil tanker) caught on a reef is slowly being chewed up and destroyed by the constant bashing of the ocean surf! The coast guard and the government helpless to do anything except let mother nature take it's coarse! So far nothing man made can get close enough to do anything to alieve the situation. I hope we never have to find ourselves in that position anywhere along the coast of BC or in the Douglas Channel! There are absolutely no "PROS" to this project! Development Yes, ENBRIDGE, NEVER!
Comment by Ted on 2nd November 2011
Very well said Cliff ! I hope your message is heard by all candidates !!!
Its not that difficult.
Comment by Apocalypse Now on 2nd November 2011
If Mayor and council don't want to go on record as to which side they support they could have put an extra box on the ballot or have a seperate ballot where every voter gets to mark their X either in support of Enbridge or against Enbridge. This way they can use the excuse that they are upholding the wishes of the community. And no one can fault them for that.