Mayor raises concerns about conflict of interest with pipeline panel

Burnaby’s mayor is afraid the federal government’s panel on the Kinder Morgan file is just for show and is riddled with conflict of interest.

Derek Corrigan made the comments on Tuesday during a presentation to the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project Ministerial Panel, which is in town until Thursday to get public feedback on the multibillion-dollar proposal. The Burnaby stop was part of a larger tour, which covers communities along the pipeline and marine shipping route.

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In May, the Trudeau government created the three-member panel to review the pipeline, just days before the National Energy Board made its recommendation to approve the project.

In his speech, Corrigan argued the ministerial panel, made up of Annette Trimbee, Kim Baird and Tony Penikett, was a political one. Trimbee, president of the University of Winnipeg and a former deputy finance minister, also served on Premier Rachel Notley’s royalty review panel last year. Baird, a former Tsawwassen First Nation chief, has close ties to Kinder Morgan and the corporation’s Canadian president, Ian Anderson, he noted. The pair teamed up in 2010 as part of an exchange program with the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business. Baird eventually became a registered lobbyist for the Woodfibre LNG project in Squamish.

“I have great fears,” Corrigan told the panel. “I know it’s out there. Ms. Baird, your longterm relationship with Mr. Anderson and Kinder Morgan, and I know that Ms. Trimbee was sitting on royalty commissions for Alberta in regard to the industry. Those kind of issues make all of us worry about the process.”

According to an emailed statement from Natural Resources Canada, Baird is not in a conflict of interest.

“Ms. Baird took part in a leadership exchange program with the Industry Council for Aboriginal Business, which paired Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal leaders so they could learn from one another’s experience. Ms. Baird was paired with Kinder Morgan Canada’s president, Ian Anderson. She has no ongoing relationship with Kinder Morgan; thus, no conflict of interest exists,” the email reads.

The mayor, meanwhile, suggested it’s worrisome the panel has no power to make recommendations, only to “simply transmit what was said by people back to government.”

 “Is anybody going to stand back and listen to what the people are saying, or is it always going to be about how much money can be made by corporate interests in this country?” he asked. “Is anybody going to take the time to listen to people like me, who represent 250,000 people in this community, who are saying ‘No, don’t do this to us?’”

Corrigan’s speech also touched on the “flawed” NEB process, including not allowing oral cross-examination during hearings and the Harper government’s decision to appoint a Kinder Morgan consultant to the NEB.

The best situation, according to Corrigan, would be making the NEB go back to the drawing board and “start over.”

“I think it’s the only thing that would satisfy the people who are interveners in this process. I think, also, that they’re going to have to face the reality that First Nations are not going to accept this application and that we can expect that there’s going to be significant litigation that’s going to delay this application for years unless they find a more legitimate process,” he said during a media scrum after his presentation.

The panel will be holding an economic roundtable tomorrow (Aug. 11) from 1:30 to 3 p.m., followed by a public town hall from 4:30 to 8 p.m. For the roundtable meetings, invited stakeholder groups will speak first, then the general public can comment. For town halls, anyone can comment. The meetings are being held inside the Crystal Ballroom of the Hilton Vancouver Metrotown, at 6083 McKay Ave.

The ministerial panel stops into Vancouver on Aug. 16 to 18, followed by North Vancouver (Aug. 19) and Victoria (Aug. 23 and 24). Once all of the feedback is collected, the group will present a report to the federal government before the Liberal cabinet makes a decision in December.

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