CONTRIBUTION · 23rd January 2014
On January 21, 2014, Kitimat's Mayor and Council deliberated on what question should be on the upcoming plebiscite regarding Enbridge's Northern Gateway dual pipeline and supertanker port proposal.
Councillors Scott, Germuth, and Goffinet wanted a question like, "Are you in favour of the Enbridge Northern Gateway project"?
Councillors Feldhoff, Murphy, and Enpinado wanted it to be, "Do you support the final report recommendations of the Joint Review Panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and the National Energy Board, that the Enbridge Northern Gateway project be approved subject to 209 conditions set out in Volume 2 of the JRP’s final report?"
Mayor Monaghan, holding the deciding vote, voted for the second, longer question.
The first question is short, concise, understandable by all, and would give a clear indication of where the people of Kitimat stand on this issue. Why would Mayor Monaghan and Councillors Murphy, Feldhoff, and Enpinado choose the second, more complicated question? I believe they are tying the plebiscite question to the JRP report, instead of the project itself, because they are planning two steps ahead.
Prime Minister Harper will, undoubtedly, make a dramatic show of taking the JRP recommendations and making them even 'stronger', more 'robust', 'world leading', 'safer', with more 'revenue sharing' and 'benefits' in a last ditch effort to gain social license in British Columbia. This is when Mayor Monaghan and Councillors Murphy, Feldhoff, and Enpinado could change the District of Kitimat's neutral status to 100% support without flip-flopping on the plebiscite, which Mayor Monaghan has promised to uphold whichever way the vote goes.
This is all guess work on my part, but what I do know is that tying the plebiscite to the JRP recommendations was a bad idea. Why? If you vote yes to the plebiscite question as it now stands, you will be agreeing with recommendation #26 which allows temporary foreign workers to build the pipelines, not Canadians as has been promised all along.
If you vote yes, you would also be agreeing with Section 1.1 which states, "A primary purpose of the project would be to provide access for Canadian oil to international markets..." which means this is an export only project for unrefined bitumen without any hope of value added projects of any kind. Think raw log exports, Tar Sands style.
By manipulating the plebiscite question, Mayor Monaghan and Councillors Feldhoff, Murphy, and Enpinado have painted themselves into a very awkward, and politically uncomfortable corner. Maybe they should trust the democratic process and represent the wishes of their constituents, as Councillors Goffinet, Scott, and Germuth are willing to do.