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REPORTING · 23rd January 2014
Walter McFarlane
There was one question which Council discussed for the Plebiscite in detail on Monday January 20th, and that was whether or not the Council should reveal how they feel about the Enbridge Pipeline. Anyone who pays attention to the way our Council speaks about the pipeline should already have an inkling of who is for and who is against.

Councillor Phil Germuth made the motion to add the question to the debate for the Plebiscite. Germuth and Councillor Feldhoff debated whether this was an appropriate question to be brought forward at this time, but it would be accepted as a motion.

“Leadership, Terrace, Prince Rupert, Smithers. Mayor and Council of our neighbouring communities showed leadership. They were able to clearly state their positions on behalf on their citizens, and it didn’t cost upwards of $15,000 through a non-binding plebiscite. It is an opportunity for us, Mayor and Council to state our individual positions on this project. It is time for us, Mayor and Council to show leadership,” said Germuth.

Councillor Mary Murphy stated the survey was originally proposed by Phil and he could have asked this of Mayor and Council two years ago where they stood. “He requested a survey and we’re moving on with a survey,” said Murphy.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff expressed they should debate the questions and have multiple questions. He wanted one related to value added, but he heard the discussion on hypothetical projects and that the question was too confusing. He said he was happy with the one question but if this was the will of Council to add more questions, they can change it.

“The leadership that I think that our Council will show is the leadership to reflect upon the results of the Plebiscite and decide carefully upon the reflected comments results, what our action should be, and voter turnout and the margin of the vote will make us reflect heavily on what our options may be,” said Feldhoff.

Councillor Rob Goffinet said they should not be debating the question, because the motion is only to add the question to the motion. The question was added to the discussion.

When Council went into it, Feldhoff said he did not see the value in discussing this question right away. Germuth stated his reason for bringing forward the question was so Council could have a discussion on it.

“I think as leaders, it is up to us to let the people know our positions. We’re going out and asking their positions, yet we’ve been hiding behind neutrality but we won’t give them our positions. I think as leaders, we should go around the table and put our positions out there. When the vote comes back and we go this way or that way, that’s fine. If it comes back in favour, and you know my position, I accept the way that goes and support the project if it goes that way,” said Germuth.

Feldhoff stated there was nothing preventing the Council from putting their individual positions forward.

Goffinet stated this was a very important position. He stated many Councillors have stated where they stand, while others are still forming an opinion. He stated his only concern was that Council is aware that if they state their opinion, it would have to serve a purpose, such as campaigning.

“Campaigning, not campaigning, or getting certain groups in the community upset with your judgement. That is politics. I don’t mind saying how I feel about this, after I have read the document to see if I have formed my entire opinion or if I change it,” said Goffinet.

He told Council that when he does it, he does not want groups of people to say that Council voted this way, but individuals voted against what they believe in. He stated he would be happy to share how he feels on issues and he would be happy to stand by it and take his lumps. However, he does not want to be perceived as cowardly.

“I understand that my best friends may disagree with me. Some of my voters, may disagree with me on this, but that’s fair,” said Goffinet.

Germuth stated all of Council has made up their minds. The project has been around long enough. He wants to go to people and say a simple yes or no.

“I think leadership is doing what your electorate tells you to do and if you have already said that you don’t want it and you come back say you want it or the other way around, I think you may have a little bit of a problem. It is up to you to do what the electorate tells you to do because they’re your constituents and they are the people in Kitimat that you are working for,” said Mayor Joanne Monaghan.

Goffinet expressed that if the vote comes in opposite to what he believes in, he will vote according to the will of the people of Kitimat. He said he was willing to tell people what he thinks without prejudice. He believes after the Plebiscite, the Council will line up and say this what Kitimat wants and they will take it to the Provincial and Federal Government.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated leadership was subjective and there is also democracy which they can never be because they cannot please both sides. This is his position. Both sides of this issue are parts of this community and their role on Council is to bring both voices to the table.

Feldhoff stated this would make a good future discussion, before or after the plebiscite. Scott stated stating their own opinion was not stating your own opinion. “Leadership is trying to represent the entire community,” said Scott. “There are things which are good if we would try to attract this project and there are things that are not good about the project that we should be concerned about.”

She stated she wanted to represent all the factions in the community, not just one or another. The discussion ended there and Council moved on to the final part of their meeting.
What is leadership?
Comment by FayEllen McFarlane on 24th January 2014
If 'leadership is doing what your electorate tells you to do', then why can't you hear them asking for a simple question that can be answered with a "Yes!" or a "No!"

You insist on a convoluted question with all the twists and turns of a good mystery novel that may require multiple answers with qualifiers and explanations!

When my husband was in Scouting, he liked the KISS theory...Keep It Simple (Scouter)! Try it! It works!