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COMMENTARY · 17th January 2012
Merv Ritchie
In a manner almost claiming an authority greater than a BC Supreme Court Judge, Enbridge Northern Gateway spokesman Paul Stanway stated “That’s one point of view, we believe there are others.” He was referring to Judge McEwen determination the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS) was not a legal society. He made this statement at the end of the Joint Review Panel Hearings in Smithers, BC on January 16, 2011.

Stanway may be presenting the position of the Canadian Federal Conservative government today; Courts and Judges are not relevant and the rule of law is just a minor impediment. And Stanway has a long history of presenting the positions of Conservative Governments.

Before he took on this new role as being the spokesman for Enbridge Northern Gateway, Stanway was the director of communications for Alberta Conservative Premier Ed Stelmach. He accepted that role direct from his position as publisher of the Edmonton Sun. His manner in representing issues fairly for the public as is the media’s role has been seriously questioned.

Edmonton Journal columnist Graham Thomson—one of two provincial affairs pundits left standing after the Premier’s recruitment drive—worried that the public would see Alberta’s ink-stained wretches as a “farm team” for the Public Affairs Bureau, the Government of Alberta’s ubiquitous “ministry of truth.” […] we should be asking: just how long were these guys auditioning for their new jobs? Wrote Shannon Phillips in 2007. Read more here

Stanway knows all the games and all the ways to play the public, what message needs to get out and how to deliver it, he has been doing it for decades. That is why in political circles the position is referred to as “the spin doctor”. Stanway is the spin doctor extraordinaire.

After Enbridge’s Chief Executive, Pat Daniel, attended a Coastal First Nations board meeting Executive Director Art Sterritt was reported as stating “He [Daniels] was going to find out whether [the JRP] would put the process on hold. He was going to investigate that,” It was spun to appear as if the Coastal First Nations were considering accepting the Northern Gateway proposal. And when asked directly about delaying the Enbridge Northern Gateway application Stanway is reported as stating, “We’re not going to confirm any of that. […] That’s their interpretation.”

The result was all the major newspapers headlined Enbridge and the coastal first nations were working together.

All of this caused the Coastal First Nations to issue their own news release the next day stating it was all a set up by Daniels, that they had no intention of accepting the proposal. This news release was not featured in any mainstream paper.

Another issue which received little media attention was a signing ceremony declaration of 61 First Nations united in opposition to the proposal.

The next day however Enbridge’s communication team (Janet Holder and Stanway) convinced Elmer Derrick, the negotiator for the Gitxsan Treaty Society (GTS), to attend a signing ceremony and news conference. The GTS had been engaged in a Court battle for years regarding their legitimacy. With this significant controversy brewing for three years it is inconceivable Enbridge was unaware of it. Even many reporters attending the news conference question Derricks legitimacy to sign on behalf of the Gitxsan Nation.

The next day however, newspaper headlines screamed bold and large on the front pages, Gitxsan Support Enbridge. When the Gitxsan people nailed the door to the GTS offices shut and literally ousted Derrick and his associates, the newspapers barely made a peep.

When the Gitxsan people attended the next hearing of the Court application challenging the legitimacy of the GTS, Judge McEwen stopped the proceedings mid way through the GTS lawyers presentations and declared he would not hear any more evidence, the Society was not a legal entity, he would not hear from a law firm representing an illegal entity.

No major media even made a whisper of this declaration and in Smithers on Monday, January 16, Stanway attempted to downplay the declaration that the entity Enbridge signed a contract with was illegal, stating the matter is still before the courts.

“What you’re talking about is one particular point of view. We believe there are other points of view.”

When pushed further on how the documents Enbridge signed with Elmer Derrick were now null and void, that the GTS was not a legal entity Stanway responded, “We believed it was.”

But it is not legal and according to statements made in Court the Society may never have been legal. The law firm representing Elmer Derrick, Bull, Housser &Tupper LLP has until January 20, 2011 to explain to the Court how and if the Society can be resurrected. The Society Act has a provision under Section 85 to resurrect a defunct Society. There is no question at this time the Society was not operating legally. It is something a corporation such as Enbridge should know. Some Gitxsan have asked, ‘How many other illegal organizations is Enbridge participating in?’

Stanway is attempting to spin this his way. Such as how he penned an editorial for Vivian Krause, which Stephen Harper and Minister Oliver have taken to heart.

All of which is entirely legal of course, but you can see why insulating such deep-pocketed "funders" from public scrutiny would be part of the deal. If the scale and sophistication of its funding were more widely known it would be difficult for the antioilsands lobby to sustain its image as a group of selfless activists operating on a shoestring -- a popular movement dedicated to opposing insidious "corporate" wealth and influence.

This fiction is essential to the media image of the lobby and its attraction to the political left, but it's clear from the numbers Krause has unearthed that the anti-oilsands movement is in fact heavily dependent on money from a small number of American foundations created out of corporate wealth.
Read it all here

Fiction and media image is something British born Stanway knows pretty much everything about.