One more nail in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline coffin as B.C. Mayors vote against the highly contentious project.

B.C’s mayors have been busy at their annual conference, held in Whistler this year, passing a resolution that staunchly opposes both the proposed Enbridge pipeline project, and another that calls on senior governments to formally ban tanker traffic and offshore drilling  in B.C.

From the Surrey Leader today, courtesy of Jeff Nagel :

A controversial pipeline that would carry oil sands crude from Alberta across northern B.C. to tankers on the north coast has taken a hit from the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Civic leaders at the annual conference in Whistler passed a resolution opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal.

They also voted to call on senior governments to formally legislate a ban on offshore oil drilling and to ban oil tanker traffic in the waters surrounding Haida Gwaii.

Opponents of crude oil exports were jubilant, particularly delegates from the Village of Queen Charlotte, which sponsored some of the resolutions.

“It is simply too much to risk, the consequences too high, our knowledge too insufficient and the wrong place to put our hopes and dreams,” Queen Charlotte Mayor Carol Kulesha said, adding she hopes the endorsement adds more fuel to the fight against the Enbridge project.

Critics say oil sands petroleum comes with a higher carbon footprint and the pipeline would bring unacceptable risks of pollution – both inland and offshore – in the event of a spill.

“The enormous environmental damage done in the Gulf of Mexico is something we don’t want to see here,” Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne said.

Other delegates said the Enbridge pipeline would cross hundreds of northern streams and rivers and bring 225 tankers a year to Kitimat, through north coast waters prone to hurricane-force winds.

Stunning, and wonderful news that is likely tying some hefty knots in the knickers of Enbridge exec’s and trough-feeders like former Prince George mayor turned Enbridge propaganda artist , Colin Kinsley, who worked in the natural gas industry prior to moving into politics.

The question is, will we see this very newsworthy item on the front page locally?

” Pipeline Propaganda” a revealing look at how Enbridge uses stealth marketing disguised as grassroots initiatives

It leaves a nasty, foul taste in my mouth, much like I imagine the dirty oil from the tar sands would leave.  Just how far will corporate giant Enbridge go to promote it’s Northern Gateway pipeline project? 

How about an “educational package that is targeted to school children”?  This, direct from the mouth of Colin Kinsley, ex-mayor of Prince George and the new face of Enbridge in northern BC. It doesn’t get any lower that that, if you ask me, unless you look at how Enbridge employs stealth marketing and big corporate $$$  to push their glossy PR propaganda  on the residents and businesses of northern communities – all under the guise of a grassroots initiative .

You might wonder why coastal and metro Vancouver residents should even care about a pipeline going across northern BC, but the potential risks from this project will have a massive impact on all of us. Imagine oil supertankers going up and down the coast. Imagine if even one develops a leak, even a small one. Oil tanker traffic has not been allowed along the BC coast for years, but Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals plan to change all of that, and more. This pipeline has received much support from our current  Liberal administration, as part of the Asia Pacific Gateway plans.( One wonders how the environment minister, Barry Penner, lives with himself at night. Guess it comes with being a lawyer)

 Inform yourself now, to prevent a nasty surprise down the road. Need I say… Exxon Valdez?

  From the Prince George Citizen, staff writer Gordon Hoekstra ( the link for this column is now working)

PIPELINE PROPAGANDA– Gordon Hoekstra, Citizen Staff

Enbridge is footing the bill for a northern advocacy group to generate community support for its proposed $4.5-billion project .The recently-formed Northern Gateway Alliance which is advocating support for Enbridge’s $4.5 billion pipeline through northern B.C. is the brainchild of Enbridge and is being bankrolled by the company, The Citizen has learned.
The Alliance was rolled out earlier this month during the North Central Municipal Association’s annual convention as a community coalition in support of the Enbridge project. It has also been billed as a “grassroots” group designed to create a voice for the North. Community leaders who have signed on include Prince George mayor Dan Rogers, Mackenzie mayor Stephanie Killam and Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan.
The recent announcement made no mention of Calgary-based Enbridge’s involvement.
But it is not the communities that are paying the bills, setting up the website or organizing the group’s activities. It is Enbridge.
In fact, the chair of the Northern Gateway Alliance, former Prince George mayor Colin Kinsley, is on Enbridge’s payroll.
Neither Enbridge nor Kinsley deny that Enbridge is bankrolling the Alliance, and that the community group was the company’s idea.
“It’s what Enbridge engaged me to do,” says Kinsley.
But the North American pipeline giant denies they are engaging in “astroturfing” — a term that describes companies that fund or create seemingly grassroots organizations to give their cause legitimacy.
Enbridge spokesperson Steve Greenaway said that characterization is unfair. “I’m not willing to accept that we are somehow trying to do this from the top down. We have gone to community after community after community to explain the details of our project and we will continue to do that,” he said.

Asked if the company was being dishonest in spearheading the creation of a so-called grassroots organization, Greenaway said no.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that we’re putting words in anyone’s mouth. Those people are coming forward voluntarily and allowing, you know, allowing, quotes to be placed on our website,” said Greenaway. (The quotes from mayors like Rogers and Killam are posted on the Alliance website).
“I think it’s important that all voices are heard in this debate, and I think in terms of, you know, support we have provided through compensating a chair who is going to assemble a board of community leaders across the pipeline, to characterize compensating him for part-time work, as somehow, is anything untoward about that, is unfair,” said Greenaway.
He would not say how much Enbridge is spending on the creation and support of the Alliance, but did acknowledge that Kinsley was being paid by the company, which was also offering administrative support to the Alliance effort.
Kinsley acknowledges it could be argued the Alliance is not a grassroots organization if Enbridge has hired him to create it, but said that somebody has to lead it. “It’s a great deal of work, and an immense amount of travel.”
Kinsley also argues that the intent of the Alliance is to support the pipeline project proceeding to the regulatory review where questions can be asked by northerners. (Only once has the National Energy Board, one of the project’s reviewing agencies, rejected a major project, the Sumas 2 energy plant near the B.C.-Washington border).
“We want to make sure this thing isn’t stopped in its tracks,” says Kinsley.
But the former mayor’s enthusiasm for the project is hard to hide.
He defends the merits of the project by rolling out stock Enbridge arguments, pointing to a focused economic regional impact, lauding a trust Enbridge plans to create for community projects, maintaining there is no oil tanker moratorium on the coast off Kitimat and calling the federal government review process robust. “It’s probably the most sophisticated approach to a major project such as this, that’s ever been undertaken,” he says.
Kinsley makes a similar pitch on the Alliance’s website.
“This will be an outstanding project and it will have economic benefits that are untold for northern B.C. and Alberta, for both aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities,” he says in a short video on the site.
Kinsley plans to take this message to Rotary Clubs, chambers of commerce, town councils and regional districts, as well as construction and contractor associations. Also in the works is an educational package targeted at school children.
He’s also encouraging supporters to sign up on the Alliance’s website.
So far, under 200 supporters have signed up.
Even a casual inspection of the Alliance and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline’s websites show startling similarities.
The design of both websites is similar, including the type faces, the muted green colour scheme and the positive messages on the project.
Identical messages cycling on both sites proclaim: Enbridge is a Canadian company that has been safely building, operating and maintaining pipelines for 55 years; Thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created to support the construction and operation of the Northern Gateway pipeline, benefiting workers in northern B.C. and Alberta.
There are about 20 messages.
The logos on both sites are also very similar with an identical stylized green leaf.
There’s also a direct link from the Alliance website to the Northern Gateway Pipeline website.
There’s little doubt that Enbridge’s effort to create the alliance is aimed directly at environmental groups who do not support the project.
Kinsley argues that environmental groups are not local groups and are funded by U.S. foundations. Greenaway offers a similar argument.
An environmental group that is based in the North, the Terrace-based North West Watch, is dismayed by Enbridge’s recent tactics in creating the alliance.
North West Watch representative Julia Hill noted she just recently learned of the term “astroturfing” to describe this type of activity.
According to SourceWatch, a project of the Madison, Wisc.-based Center for Media and Democracy, “astroturfing” refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.
Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, a longtime Washington and Wall Street insider, is credited with coining the term.
There are numerous examples of the practice in the U.S. including its use to block health-care reform and to oppose restrictions on smoking in public places.
Closer to home, the B.C. Forestry Alliance was created as a citizens’ group in the early ’90s to improve the image of the forest sector, where it faced criticism from environmental groups on logging in the southwest of B.C. The group was funded by the forest industry whose members also sat on its board.
North West Watch recently applauded Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski for pulling out of the Northern Gateway Alliance. Pernarowski had objected to the wording on the alliance’s site that indicated unqualified support for the pipeline project.
North West Watch and Friends of Wild Salmon are calling for an independent public inquiry into the pipeline project similar to one held in the late ’70s.
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council chief David Luggi is not surprised by Enbridge’s tactics. “I think Enbridge is using (Kinsley) as a pivotal PR point,” observed Luggi. “It’s a PR (public relations) machine firing up on all cylinders.”
The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council has been calling for a separate government-funded, First Nations-led review process to assess major projects in their traditional territory.
In 2006, First Nations, which included the tribal council, had requested $2.4 million from the federal government to spearhead their own review of Enbridge’s proposed pipeline. Later that year, the tribal council filed a federal court challenge of the federal government’s decision to send Enbridge’s proposed pipeline to a review panel. The tribal council wanted the court to overturn the creation of the panel because they said they were not consulted.
Rogers, the Prince George mayor, who has signed up with the alliance, says he is under no illusion that the group is a creation of Enbridge.
“I think that everyone understands that is participating is that it’s being driven by Enbridge. No surprises there,” says Rogers. “It’s PR strategy.”
Nevertheless, Rogers is comfortable being associated with the alliance, saying Enbridge is looking at signing up those that believe there may be benefits because there will be those that are adamantly opposed.
Rogers says he is supportive of the project moving to the review stage.
“I’m not afraid as the mayor of B.C.’s northern capitol to reiterate, as the largest centre in the northern region, there are some economic benefits that could flow to our community,” he said. “We want a stake in those discussions and to participate in those discussion as it unfolds.”
Rogers said the city has not put any money into the alliance.

For more information and background on this project – some of which you will not see on the Enbridge project site –  check out my recent blog posts HERE and HERE.

( and since you are here, scroll down a wee bit and read how one suit took 16 days to get from Surrey to Prince George – travelling to Montreal and Edmonton along the way)

I’m back…..although not willingly.

After taking some time off over the last 10 days, I return to the real world under protest. Nothing like a departure from all things modern and obtrusive to put some perspective back into your life, which is how I spent my time off. No watches, no tv, no computer and no schedules. And other than suffering from over a couple hundred bug bites and a river otter attack ( no lie) it’s all good. I’ll bring you all the details later this week.

Funny though, after not hearing ,reading or watching any news for that time, it was a delight to see  this bit by Tieleman on one of the latest turns in the Basi-Virk hearings:

” BASI-VIRK – Defence alleges Christy Clark may have leaked confidential BC Rail information from cabinet to Erik Bornmann – lobbyist for OmniTRAX “

What? Ex-deputy minister turned talk show host for the once mighty CKNW alleged to have possibly leaked confidential material ? Well, it’s not like anyone following this never-ending story didn’t know her name was going to come up at some point- her brother Bruce is a big L Liberal player whose home was searched under warrant pertaining to the privatization of  BC Rails Roberts Bank spur line- among other interesting allegations. And let us not forget the RCMP did make a visit- without warrantand with full cooperation – to the home of Christy Clark and  her Big L  Liberal hubby Mark Marissen, who is well known as a strategist and ‘communications’ specialist for the Federal Libs. ( check out this older column by Tieleman for the A to Z on the BC Rail investigation )  And yes, it goes without saying that all of these are unproven allegations, yada, yada,yada… but I like it anyways.

And what else did I find upon my return? Ah, yes, it appears that King Gordo is going to table a new budget come fall. ( Big surprise, eh? ) AND, he is not committing to the deficit he repeatedly rammed down the throats of voters as written in stone. In fact, despite the fact that economists have known for some time Gordo would never be able to keep that budget, and that he would have known it was impossible to keep that deficit figure, Gordo now appears to be prepping the massed for an unpleasant surprise. As quoted in this Tyee blog post in The Hook :

“We’re obviously living in a very volatile time,” said Premier Gordon Campbell following the swearing in of the B.C. Liberal Party caucus today. “When facts change we have to be willing to change.”

It looks to me like Campbell thinks the people really are stupid enough to believe that the economy has just tanked since his re-election. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Campbell voters. Any by the way, he also mentioned he is looking for another $1.9 BILLION( yes, billion) in cuts.

Still the biggest unreported story in the mainstream media, the Enbridge Gateway pipeline project I blogged about here and here  recently, was again the subject of summit to address the environmental risks associated with the proposal.  And interesting enough, a link left in the comments sections that quotes part of a column published in the Prince George Citizen is no longer available online. That same link was left here in my comments section by a reader( Astro). The column mirrors my thoughts on Enbridge’s initiative to start a ” grassroots” organization funded on their bankroll. Censorship? All I know is that ex-mayor Colin Kinsley still pulls strings where and when he can, not to mention the new mayor and Council in Prince George are for the project.

Now, the other interesting bit to note is that to this day, I am still the only writer to have addressed the significance of Yvette Wells notebooks pertaining to the BC Rail/Basi-Virk hearing, which was posted to this blog on March 10th of this year, right after the NDP made the documents available to all the press – photocopies and a researcher on site. You can read that post and see the picture of those documents HERE.

In fact, Bill Tieleman even commented on this in his Tyee column of May 11th, earlier this year:

” So far there is no “smoking gun” that incontrovertibly proves the defence theory correct, although there is considerable evidence that points in the direction of a viable hypothesis.

But one piece of information contained in the NDP release of 8,000 pages of information previously obtained by defence lawyers through freedom-of-information requests has not been discussed anywhere so far except by blogger Laila Yuile, and posted online by the NDP ”

It’s still seems more than a little crazy that the lowly blogger, reviled by many of the MSM as unreliable,unprofessional and lower than low, would be the only one to spot this gem among the hundreds of pages the NDP handed right over to the press. Taken from the above mentioned blog post from March 2009:

The  notebooks.

 Not just any notebooks, but the notebooks of  Yvette Wells, who up until now has remained an obscure figure in all of this.

 Yvette Wells  was the  Executive Director of the Crown AgenciesSecretariatat the time of the sale. The Secretariat is responsible for the accountability of  crown corporations, so keeping that in mind, it could be said that she was basically the person to oversee the accountability of the entire BC Rail sale  in her position. She would very much have been the “go-to” person of preference to reference anything to do with the ongoing negotiations.

Her notebooks were released because of the relevance of the information within them to the entire BC Rail deal, and they do not disappoint. Among all the hundreds of pages that I read through, the following excerpt clears any question as to the fairness of the bidding process for me. 

” dilema :

          – don’t want to mislead other bidders

           – don’t want to tell them CN are getting other info –  don’t want them to do work, spend $

           – don’t want them to drop out b/c if can’t resolve issues- we may go back to other bidders.

           –  CN got data from CIBC that they shouldn’t “ 

October 22, 2003 notes.


Kind of hard to explain those notes away no matter how you try to spin it. Remember – this was coming from someone who was in charge of accountability and governance of crown corporations.

In fact, many of her copious and detailed notes back up  the accusations voiced by other bidders in reference to an unfair bidding process.”

Read the rest of this significant item HERE.

Why – with the exception of Bill’s recent mention- has this bit gone ignored? Where is Yvette Wells now, and why hasn’t her name come up in court? Please, slip this one to the judge and lawyers will you?

I’m sure there is more I’ve missed, but these are a few things that grabbed my attention. Along with the little CKNW Angus Reid poll that found its way into my email this morning. Apparently the big ratings drop over the fall winter season, where CBC radio ended up beating them nearly across the board, seems to have left them trying to figure out what moves to take to grab those listeners. The survey touched on items like internet radio, ipods as well as suggestions as to what we, the listeners would like to hear.

Now, the topic of CKNW and masthead host Bill Good has been something the political blogging community has been touching on for a while. He claims to be unbiased, but revealed his Liberal inclination to listeners through his on-air discussions throughout the election,and it appears to have turned off a lot of listeners.  Now, I think a host that has a bias and doesn’t hide it, is great and that can lead to rousing talk on air- the entire point of it. But when a host who has built his reputation on being neutral suddenly rears his political head in a rather obvious way, it turns people off. People want the real deal, not hidden connections and unadvertised agendas. 

 That, along with all the ads, the poorly written and dispatched “breaking news” emails and the same  bland, old day after day routine, is enough to send even the most devoted listener looking elsewhere.  And CBC seems to offer the best alternative to the once mighty giant CKNW.

What do you think? What do you listen to, and why? Are you turning away from conventional radio towards other sources? I’m curious, since it has always been my intention to offer a weekly podcast show here, although I haven’t incorporated it as of yet. Looking for your suggestions and feedback  on this topic as I look towards the future of this blog and the launch of the new Laila Yuile site.

Oh yes, and more on otter attack coming up later this week!


Support divided for Enbridge Northern Pipeline and the resulting oil tanker traffic along sensitive BC coastlines

While the election may be over,and life returns to normal here on the coast,  the end 0f it certainly doesn’t signal a departure from one contentious issue receiving growing attention in Northern B.C.*( and here on the coast) : the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.

The focus of intense scrutiny from both residents in the area and environmentalists, the project centers around the  construction of two pipelines that  will, when built, originate in the Edmonton area ,cross northern B.C. and will end in the port community of Kitimat. This is where Enbridge will construct a new  port terminal, complete with two berths to accommodate oil tankers.

The West pipeline will be 36 inches in diameter, 1,170 kilometres long and will transport  about 525,000 barrels worth of petroleum ( oil ) from Alberta to Kitimat every single day.

The East pipeline will be 20 inches in diameter, also 1,170 kilometres long and will be carrying about 193,000 barrels of condensate from Kitimat to Alberta every day. (condensate is the material used to thin petroleum products for pipeline transport)

While supporters of the project say that it will create jobs and generate revenue  for years to come, those who are opposed to it are  very concerned about the lasting harm that may be done to the environment during construction and transport – the worst case scenario being an oil spill that can stick around( literally) for decades. The pipeline catch-point is that it requires the frequent travel of oil tankers up and down the B.C. coastline, an activity that is violently opposed by environmentalists.

In a move questioned by many in northern communities surrounding Prince George, former P.G. Mayor Colin Kinsley has become the face of Enbridge and was  actually approached by the company last September  “to organize a community advisory board and a, grassroots organization, to promote the pipeline.”

Hmmmm. Meaning, I assume, he must be on the payroll. I can’t for the life of me imagine someone doing all this work for free. The result of this request by Enbridge was the creation of the Northern Gateway Alliance, and many of the northern mayors have joined in support .

An excerpt from the glossysmoothslick site details the potential benefits as marketed by the Alliance:

“If approved, Northern Gateway can become a catalyst for economic growth across both northern BC and northern Alberta. The project would deliver billions of dollars in new capital investment, thousands of jobs during construction and new skills and training opportunities for young people. The project would also provide long lasting benefits for First Nations and communities along the pipeline corridor.”

Despite all the information meetings, the articles, the endless marketing for what will obviously be a lucrative venture for Enbridge, the company has not been able to quell the growing concerns raised by many northern residents, First nations, and environmentalists. In fact, it seems they must be in a constant battle to address the various issues, as demonstrated by a link on their project home page titled: ” In defense of Enbridge…”

Here,  the company responds to an article published in The Daily News – a Prince Rupert newspaper – on May 4th, titled: “All the risk with little benefit; So why are pipelines, such as the Enbridge Gateway project, springing up like fertilized weeds lately?” However, try as I might, there seems to be no link online to that article anywhere- not even a cached version remains. I’ve emailed the publisher to see if I can get a copy,because if the company felt it needed to respond- it must have been good. ( It’s a Canwest paper, so I’m not holding my breath on this)

Those in opposition are  extremely worried about the possibility of oil spills along  one of the most environmentally and ecologically diverse coastlines in the world, as well as along the pipeline if there is a failure. Not to mention the very realistic fears that this project will mean the expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands, which has often been called one of Canada’s biggest embarrassments.

Despite all the press and talk in the north, and here among environment supporters , what stands out to me is how few people here on the coast seem to know that this is even going on, or the risks associated with it.

 The major media players in our province, accessed by the hundreds of thousands of BC residents,  have paid little – if any-  attention to what is an enormous project that will change the face of B.C.  for generations to come – with very few exceptions. And I find that very odd. A project touted as bringing new life to the desperate northern communities ravaged by the tanked forestry industry? Jobs and Revenue for thousands? Why no fanfare?

 The majority of coverage has been by environmental groups and independents like the Tyee and the Georgia Straight, and I suspect that will remain true unless one of two things happen: 1) the  average joe starts asking questions or 2) this gets some really bad publicity and the Public Affairs Bureau calls on Canwest to do a spin-job for their Liberal masters.

Andrew Findley authored an article in the Straight that I would say should be running front page on all our local papers right now. In it, he addresses the motivations and support that the project has received from investors  AND the BC  Liberals:

” …By selling 10 units at $10 million each, and giving buyers preferential treatment in booking capacity on the future pipeline, Enbridge has already raised $100 million from heavyweight Asian refiners and Canadian producers to help bring the project to regulatory approval.

The subplot to this story is that major oil-sands players like Suncor, Husky, Shell, and Petro-Canada desperately want the pipeline to access Asian markets as a cushion against threats from the nascent Barack Obama administration to wean the U.S. off its reliance on dirty oil-sands fuel.”


“The pipeline fits neatly within the B.C. Liberals’ energy game plan, which could have not only pipelines linking the coast to Alberta but also drilling rigs in Hecate Strait east of the Queen Charlotte Islands, an activity that has been off-limits for more than 30 years because of federal and provincial moratoriums on offshore oil and gas exploration and development. That’s why in the B.C. Energy Plan, the government promises to work “to lift the federal moratorium on offshore exploration and development and reiterate the intention to simultaneously lift the provincial moratorium”.


“Near the bottom of a 2008 throne speech dripping with sustainability rhetoric, Premier Gordon Campbell made references to an “energy corridor” that will be a boon to the northern economy…..In an enthusiastic August 2005 letter to Enbridge, Richard Neufeld, then minister of energy, mines, and petroleum resources, endorsed the pipeline and discounted the moratorium. Neufeld wrote that it “is not directed at, and has no application to oil tankers sailing to or from British Columbia ports”, referring instead to a so-called tanker exclusionary zone that targets only ships from Alaska transiting B.C. waters while bound for the U.S. (Neufeld, who is leaving provincial politics this spring to take a seat in the Senate, refused to respond to requests from the Georgia Straight for an interview.) ”

Read this excellent article HERE.

In the end, this is an project that may affect all British Columbians regardless of where they live, work and play, whether they realize it or not. British Columbia’s coastlines and coastal waters are a treasure trove of flora and fauna – some unique to our province, and other options seem completely absent. While I  recognize that the project seems to present an economic windfall to the northern residents, at what cost will this come? Where are the assurances Oil Sand expansion will not happen? Is there a viable rail transport option between Alberta and BC?  How will the BC Government respond if the unthinkable happens? Why not look at other economic options for northern communities to not only survive, but thrive?

Clearly, there are more questions than answers. And in the end, my experience is that money talks. Enbridge, Suncor, Petro-Canada and others…. they have a hell of a lot of money. More than any one person in BC, or any one group that stands up and says: ” No!”

Some say any amount of protest is futile, because they think the path has been greased so well between government officials and Enbridge that everything else is mere formality. ” A done deal,” they say.

Two words come to mind.  Exxon Valdez. Twenty years and counting.

Need I say more?

Related links:–natives-environmentalists-assail-proposed-enbridge-oil-pipeline-to-kitimat