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CONTRIBUTION · 1st April 2014
Ellis Ross
District of Kitimat Plebiscite on Enbridge Pipeline: Enbridge trying to buy Social Licence

This late in the day, a poll of its residents has no binding effect on the project. Next week, the District of Kitimat will seek the views of its residents on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. But to what end? If anything, it will lead to further uncertainty.

Deciding to hold a referendum at this late date is a slap in the face to all the work done by the Haisla Nation on this project. The Haisla Nation dedicated time and money toward testing Northern Gateway’s evidence and claims about safety and environmental protection, while the District stood by and did nothing.

The review process for this project has already left town, with the District taking no position on the project. Still undecided on what its views are on the project, the District now proposes to conduct a poll, instead of examining the facts in the JRP process. A poll to vote on a JRP report that we view as wrong to begin with including the flawed process itself!

Based on our participation, the Haisla Nation has determined the risks associated with Northern Gateway’s transport of diluted bitumen and condensate clearly outweighs any potential benefits. This is an informed conclusion, made after reviewing Northern Gateway’s application and evidence, and participating extensively in the Joint Review Panel process.

The Haisla Nation is doing what it can to protect what is left of its Territory. The Joint Review Panel Report has failed to properly address the concerns associated with the project, which is why the Haisla Nation has asked the Federal Court of Appeal to review the JRP’s Report. And the Haisla Nation is not alone in its challenge of the Report. Two other First Nations – Gitga’at and Git’xaala – and two environmental organizations have also challenged the Report.

Enbridge Northern Gateway is desperate for public support. That is why it is conducting a media and canvassing blitz in the District to sway voters. Will the District of Kitimat be able to form a position based on the outcome of such a plebiscite, which would have been bought by oil money, instead of based on participating in a fact finding process like the JRP? What is a yes vote that has been bought by Enbridge’s vast advertising machine worth? Does a purchased social licence hold any value at all? If it does have a price tag, it doesn’t come close to the value that the Haisla people place on what is left of Haisla Territory; especially if you look at what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico, at Kalamazoo and the effects lasting even to today in Prince William Sound (Exxon Valdez).

The Haisla Nation will not be swayed by a yes vote in the District of Kitimat plebiscite. If anything, our membership is angry that it is even happening at all. This project is wrong for the Haisla Nation and it is wrong for the Territory that Haisla’s and non Haisla’s call home. We have a choice. We have more than enough projects to sustain the region and we are already seeing the results.
Kitimat Mayor and Council...
Comment by Larry Walker on 7th April 2014
This town council will "pay the price" of their total inability to react the the needs the taxpayers in Kitimat in the up coming election. They have facilitated the fracturing of the community which will take a long time to heal, if ever. Even though we may disagree with the Hasila on many things...we are a family and must come together to protect our environment.
Get some facts straight before you comment
Comment by Teresa Windsor on 4th April 2014
To the person who commented & said, "I don't recall any Haisla people refusing to take Enbridge's money a few years ago (with the promise of more to come) because they were opposed to the project."
Haisla have never accepted any monies from Enbridge. I don't know where you dug up your information from, but get your facts straight before you attack an entire nation with your ignorance.
Please Vote "NO" on April 12th
Comment by Gerry Hummel on 2nd April 2014
Thanks for your thoughts on this important issue Ellis! I don't blame you and Haisla Nation for taking Kitimat council’s plebiscite vote as a slap in the face, by their action they have shown utter contempt for our Haisla neighbours who have contributed to Kitimat’s economy and growth for it’s whole existance All the surrounding communities Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers have all supported the Haisla stance against The Northern Gateway Pipeline, because the risk to our environment, for the few jobs just isn’t worth it! As Harper will probably ram this pipeline down our throats a solid “NO” from Kitimat council, would, in the very least be a good negotiating position to come from, instead most of our council bend over to welcome the Enbridge Trojan Horse into our midst! With this meaningless, $15,000 plebiscite, Kitimat council led By Joanne and a few of her stubborn zombielike followers on council are basically oiling the way for Enbridge to set up shop here! Imagine in this day and age of democracy a campaign of the magnitude that Enbridge has put on to gain a Kitimat yes vote, is, or should be criminal, and in most democratic countries would probably be against voting laws! Instead of maybe putting money into useful social programs or the like, they’ve invested so much money into their vote yes campaign, it could easily finance a small country! Who isn’t sick of watching Janet Holder trolloping through the greenery espousing her northerness and Enbridge painting itself to be some kind of environmental organization every time you turn on the TV or everytime you check your favourite page on Facebook and other social media! Enbridge’s newspaper ads and billboards deserving only the campaign of a dictator are plastered all over BC and our community! Enbridge and some of it’s thousand dollar an hour employees spear headed a panzer like assault on the city in a door to door blitz guided by Ray Doering and Donny van Dyk’s, (Manager, Coastal Aboriginal and Community Relations, NGP), ear to ear cheesy grins are all part of the stormtrooper campaign The town is already dipped in Enbridge’s dirty oil and the pipeline isn’t even here yet! Douglas Channel Watch a local group of concerned citizens has tried it’s best to rally the “NO” vote! Many citizens have responded in kind! DCW started a “NO” vote campaign and received overwhelming support from around the province, country and world! We were suprised by the amount of support, both financial and moral, we also received from Albertans! Imagine in this day and age, as Putin stomps on Crimean Independence and soverignty, a corporation coming into a community and telling people which way to vote on a community issue! This smacks of Big Brotherism, next local males will be told to have the Enbridge regulation haircut I implore the people of Kitimat to vote “NO” on the plebescite on April 12th, show this corporation they can’t buy Social Licence Support the Haisla Speak for the fish, wildlife and delicate ecosystem of our beautiful area Please Vote “NO”!!
More than just Natives
Comment by Kitimat Resident on 2nd April 2014
When are you going to realize that there is more to an issue than just the concerns of the native people? I for one am sick and tired of seeing projects kaiboshed or held up over concerns of this band or that band. We all know that once a band is "fairly compensated" their opposition to a project usually disappears.

The days of this double standard should be over soon. Canada is one country and should be run as such.

I don't recall any Haisla people refusing to take Enbridge's money a few years ago (with the promise of more to come) because they were opposed to the project.
Joint Review Panel considers us a "burden"
Comment by Dave Shannon on 1st April 2014
A word count in the JRP report containing the 209 conditions mentions the word "burden" no less than 47 times. It appears to me that even the joint review panel finds it hard to approve this bone-headed project without conceding that the people of the northwest must "take a bullet" for the good of the project. Our reward for taking the bullet? We take all the risk!

The project would benefit mainly those countries receiving the diluted bitumen and the jobs its refining would provide. Canada has nothing to gain from Northern Gateway, apart from another huge smudge on our greenhouse gas contribution to global warming. Another "Fossil of the Year" award coming our way!

Thank you Ellis, and shame you, Kitimat council, for ignoring your obligations to your community .
The Joint Review Panel heard but did not listen
Comment by Mary Ann Shannon on 1st April 2014
Thank you for a truthful and knowledgeable evaluation of the circumstances.
Hard to believe how uninformed the Council has appeared with regard to this huge proposed project. After studying N.G. for years, it is frankly quite hard to not become bitter over the many lies and misconceptions put forward by Enbridge and its "experts" as truths. Thank you for challenging the J.R.P.'s report in court.
Thank you
Comment by Chery Willis on 1st April 2014
I'd like to thank you, Chief Ross, and my Haisla neighbours for your commitment to protecting this beautiful place we call home. I attended the JRP hearings in Kitamaat and listened with great interest to the stories and experiences of many Haisla people. I wish I had heard the stories in school - it would have made social studies far more interesting and given me a lot more understanding of my Haisla neighbours!
I question why a plebiscite is being held. All citizens of Kitimat, those for and against the Northern Gateway Project, had the opportunity to speak at the hearings. As far as I remember, only one spoke in favour of it, with many speaking against it. If Kitimat Council really wanted to know how citizens felt, couldn't they have done the math? I found it very difficult to stand up and speak at the hearings but felt it was my duty to do so.
Again, thank you for your passion and commitment to protecting our home!
former resident, eyes wide open
Comment by Sandy on 1st April 2014
I have lived in Kitimat, my family still lives in Athabasca, I am a Métis, my father was a logger, I am a grandmother. I know what industry can do when they have the ear of the government. I know that jobs dry up when the industry doesn't need manpower anymore. I know what toxins are released through the extraction process. I follow the news of oil and gas extraction around the world. Don't let what Enbridge did to the Kalamazoo River a few years ago be forgotten.
Misinformed council allows Enbridge’s bullying to continue.
Comment by Concerned Citizen of Kitimat on 1st April 2014

Thanks to your & your peoples leadership we may yet stand a chance to fight off Goliath.

Please know that the current path the mayor and council are taking are not representative of the community they have been elected from.

Although their original attempt at soliciting feedback may have been well intentioned, they failed to see the effect that economic pressure and that corporate bullying have had on the people of Kitimat. However, as you have said, the tide has changed and we now have many better options than the high risk, low return farce being proposed by enbridge.

The plebiscite has since grown into a disorganized and corrupt process. The major flaws including:

1. the voting pool has grown to include transient camp workers and company heads that are not invested in the long term benefit of community,

2. the question itself has been muddled, and most importantly

3. a corporation has been allowed to exert unbalanced pressure on the community and process by funding, marketing and leading for the for vote.

A corporation intent on obtaining a community’s objective opinion about their project would have abstained in participating.

Embarrassedly, the mayor herself has been sited, in the following article, as defending what has now become a glaringly obvious undemocratic process.

We are now caught in this train wreck, careening towards a flawed result. Hopefully a few councilors will find the courage to push of the structuring of the process or cancel it altogether.

Know that there are many others in Kitimat that share your sentiment. Some of us are worried about reprisals from enbridge’s bullying tactics, but please rest assured that we will turn out to vote NO on the 12th. And regardless of the results we will continue to fight with you, the Haisla Nation and the masses in Kitimat to prevent this project from happening.

Keep fighting for what is right.

A Concerned Citizen of Kitimat
JRP Report
Comment by Trin on 1st April 2014
Thank you Mr. Ellis Ross for such a great letter. I fully agree with it and want you to know that there are many of us that appreciate all the hard work the Haisla did at the JRP hearings when our own council couldn't even bother to ask one question. Keep our coasts healthy for future generations. Hope Kitimat gets out to vote a strong NO on April 12th.
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 1st April 2014
Thank you Ellis. You are right.
Plebiscite--to little too late
Comment by David McRae on 1st April 2014
Well said Mr. Ross! The Haisla Nation has every right to be angered by the fact that this plebiscite is even taking place now. Those people not paying close attention to the JRP review process may not have seen the path the panel was forced to take in arriving at their findings. They were like a herd of cattle in a loading chute with no choice in which direction to take. The only full addressed concerns that I have observed to date are those of the proponents. I hope that our municipal gov. here in Kitimat will someday be forgiven for this unfortunate slap in the face that this plebiscite renders to the Haisla Nation. David G McRae