Yesterday WaterWealth joined 85 (and growing) other organizations in signing on to a letter of support. Specifically the letter expresses support for a Burnaby residents’ group and others opposing Kinder Morgan’s work on Burnaby Mountain. The issues go much deeper however, to issues of governance and free speech that are being played out on the ground and in the courts with ramifications for the whole country.
Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the City of Burnaby and a large majority of Burnaby residents are strongly opposed to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project that would see a second heavy oil pipeline from the Tar Sands to what would be a greatly expanded tanker facility in Burrard Inlet. The City tried to stop survey work by Kinder Morgan in the designated conservation area on Burnaby Mountain. Kinder Morgan obtained a National Energy Board ruling that the company does not need the city’s permission to access the land. The City is appealing. Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan crews cut down sizeable trees in the park and the city issued fines. The area has become a hotspot of pipeline opposition.
In response to that opposition, Kinder Morgan is in court this week seeking an injunction against defenders of Burnaby Mountain and recently served a multi-million dollar lawsuit against five Burnaby residents including SFU biochemistry professor Lynne Quarmby. Kinder Morgan lawyer Bill Kaplan told the B.C. Supreme Court that Quarmby was named in the lawsuit because she published an op/ed in the Vancouver Observer stating her willingness to be arrested to stop the Trans Mountain expansion. Quarmby did not speak ill of the company in that op/ed. She wrote of people’s concerns for the land, the coast and the climate.
The NEB process around the pipeline proposal has been widely criticized and yesterday received a resounding blow to its credibility with the withdrawal from the process of intervenor Marc Eleisen. Mr Eleisen has formerly been CEO of BC Hydro, Chair of Manitoba Hydro, deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments and board member of tar sands producer Suncor. In a letter to the NEB, Mr Eleisen said that the NEB process is “a waste of time and effort, and represents a disservice to the public interest because it endorses a fraudulent process.” He went on to say that “responses to interrogatories suffer from a lack of detail and accountability” and called the Board “a truly industry captured regulator.”
Whatever one’s position on the pipeline project, and related issues such as climate change and Indigenous rights and title, the failure of governance we are witnessing cannot be condoned. The conflict on Burnaby Mountain and elsewhere in the province and across the country is predictable when citizens feel that they are being bulldozed by an illegitimate process and have no recourse from distant and unresponsive senior governments.
WaterWealth are not a protest group. We seek to advance good governance through responsible, thoughtful, science-based, collaborative efforts. Our name on this letter of support is a call for good governance, for decision-makers and regulators to restore public confidence and bring an end to conflict. We call on government to defend the citizen’s right to express their opinion in an op/ed without being sued by a multinational corporation. We call on senior governments to support a local government’s right to enforce its bylaws. We call on Kinder Morgan to act in accordance with its stated preference to work collaboratively.
See the letter of support at;