She was called out for conflict of interest. Her response is bizarre.
Review panel member says her past with Kinder Morgan is no big deal.
Imagine in the middle of a murder trial, it turned out one of the jurors was friends with the accused. The judge would have to call a mistrial and start over.
Well, Texas pipeline company Kinder Morgan is in the same situation. I mean, they haven’t literally killed anyone. Except that time in California in 2004, when five workers burned to death. And that deadly explosion in Texas in 2008. Okay, so they’ve caused hundreds of accidents. But they’ve never killed anyone in Canada.
The point is, Kinder Morgan wants to build a new oil pipeline to the B.C. coast, which would include massive tanks of flammable goo on a hill above Burnaby and hundreds of oil tankers and so on. The federal government is reviewing this proposal before it makes a final call in December.
Who’s in charge of the review that precedes this very, very important decision? A three-member panel. And surely, I can hear you saying, the integrity of this wise trio is beyond reproach? I mean, it would be a total PR disaster for the government to, I don’t know, appoint someone with a longstanding relationship to the proponent, Kinder Morgan. Right?
Enter Kim Baird, former politician turned fracking lobbyist. (Is it just me or are there a lot of those these days?) It turns out that back in 2010, when she was the elected chief councillor for the Tsawwassen First Nation, Baird went on a junket with Kinder Morgan executive Ian Anderson.
Actually, it was a ‘leadership exchange’ that lasted several months. As Baird says in this newly unearthed promotional video, “at first I was concerned that we were too similar”:
Afterward, Anderson and Baird signed a partnership agreement to share staff between the pipeline company and the First Nation’s office. As Grand Chief Stewart Phillip put it, “she was taken into Kinder Morgan’s House for a year. I believe it to be a conflict of interest.”
Yesterday reporter Peter O’Neil at the Vancouver Sun caught up with Baird — now the chair of the Liberals’ new review panel — to ask her for an explanation.
It’s a strange and damaging interview. Baird’s first defence was that the Tsawwassen First Nation now opposes Kinder Morgan. (That’s true as of January 2016. Baird was ousted in a 2012 election). Her second argument undermines the credibility of the process she now leads:
[Baird] noted that the panel’s role is to simply report to cabinet what the three members heard from groups and members of the public, rather than make a recommendation. “I fail to see how my relationship with any involved parties would impact my ability to hear those concerns and relay them to the minister,” she said. “I don’t quite see the conflict.”
In other words, it’s a glorified stenography exercise. Not Crown consultation, not a legal inquiry. Her argument is that this ‘review’ requires so little of the panel members that anyone could do it, regardless of personal bias.
As for her role as an industry lobbyist, [Baird] said she is highly selective about which corporate clients she’ll represent. She indicated she could be making more money than she currently is if she wanted to work for one or more of the major oil pipeline firms.
That deserves one of these:
Look, people have to pay the bills. I can’t begrudge Baird putting her political experience to work lobbying for the Woodfibre LNG plant (good job, by the way). She is by all accounts a very nice person. But that’s not the point.
The problem is putting Baird in charge of reviewing a project proposed specifically by Kinder Morgan, a firm with which she has a relationship going back years. Like a federal judge, she’s now an appointee of the government — meaning she’s shielded from direct accountability to voters. That requires extra care to maintain impartiality.
British Columbians have to live with the consequences of this decision for decades. At the very least, we deserve a fair review. The whole point of this supplemental panel was to restore rigour and transparency to Canada’s joke of a pipeline approval process. I mean, remember this guy?
Trust is what’s at stake here. Trudeau is rushing to make a final decision by December, but lack of procedural fairness, conflict of interest — these are the kinds of things that come back to bite a government down the line. If Ottawa approves this project on the basis of a flawed review, legal challenges could hold it up in court anyway.
Time is running out to fix this. The first step is finding a replacement for Kim Baird.
Looks like a fox in the henhouse scenario to me.
Difficult to believe that there is not one person available, less touched by KM, for the position!?
I’ve now live in 2016, PM Trudeau: please do not allow the “good old boys network” to steer us in the direction they wish to move. Instead, allow Canadians to lead our nation to what is best for us.
Baird was appointed and those who appointed her should be reported on also. What was the process used to select the panel members, what was the criteria used and who actually approved of the selection?
From the article it appears readers should suspect the motives of the federal government in selecting Baird. If the federal government wanted participation of First Nations then it should have asked First Nation’s governing bodies like Chief Stewart’s organization for a nominee.
THIS IS UNQUESTIONABLY A CONFLICT OF INTEREST, AND SHE SHOULD BE REPLACED ON THE REVIEW PANEL BY SOMEONE WHO WOULD NOT BE ” IN KINDER-MORGAN’S CORNER”
This is pathetic!! Why would someone be allowed on a review board that obviously has a vested interest with Kinder Morgan???
That is a conflict of interest to me. If she is not replaced it invalidates the whole process.
so if she was against the pipeline the whole time that would be ok? why aren’t you protesting against foreign tankers shipping US oil out of Alaska? Why are you so anti-Canadian?
And a replacement for Trudeau.
Yankees say Canada is 20 years behind the U.S. The truth is that we can see 20 years ahead when we have to be all but done with oil.
Thankfully Canadians are 20 years ahead of the U.S. rather than 20 behind as the Yankees like to claim. We must be be working toward alternatives to oil energy not exacerbating a known problem for our children. The tar sands should not have been developed, but now the oil companies act as if we owe them for their investment. I see them owing the public for 30 years of life after they knew they were a threat to a healthy earth.
It seems to me with Baird’s past relationship with Kinder Morgan there would be a conflict of interest here. Can she give an unbiased opinion in this very important matter? Also Procedural fairness seems to be lacking here. Would there be a fair review?
We don’t need this generation of Robber Barons building pipeline that will leak!
Canada economy is powered by SMALL business. We should refine our oil HERE, have cheap oil and gas HERE, and export the rest. If the Tar Sands oil is to expensive for internal use, export it, use the cheap oil, natural gas, and the other products for Canada.
The last time I checked, Kim Baird was still listed as a Hill Knowlton lobbyist for Woodfibre LNG on the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying Canada website – status currently active. Woodfibre LNG / Kim Baird, Consultant
Kim Baird, Consultant (Business address and contact information)
No public offices held
Hill+Knowlton Canada (Address & contact information)
Yet the Federal Liberals put her directly into what most would conclude is a conflict of interest.
A definite conflict of interest.
Standard government procedure eh? Sounds like all the rest of our elected parties. Promise, so as to get elected and then do what they want. Money before citizens.
Sounds like standard government procedure to me.
Lordy! Why don’t we just have pipelines going through the Trudeau household and Christie Clark’s? Let these idiots deal with the eventual leaks personally. Hopefully, the leaks will occur when they’re at home sleeping:) Yes! They wanted these pipelines, then they should have to deal with them, personally!
completely agree … replace her immediately
Thank you Kai, for your succinct description of this morally flawed process. I encourage every one to write to PM Trudeau to can it and start with a fresh slate. There is clearly no accountability in this 3-person committee. For starters, there should be experts in reviewing projects of this nature, and people who have experience in clean up of oil spills, the chemicals and their effects on ecosystems and people. People from the various industries who will be deeply affected by a spill and many more.
Thank you for your great work, as always!
Simply amazing but not surprising.
I can’t even imagine how she would get a position on the NEB if it was a conflict of interest. Is not the National Energy Board a federal government institution? Where are their processes to avoid conflict of interest….we have them at work.
It is a clear conflict of interest no matter how honest or upright she is. Governments are responsible to at least APPEAR to be open and transparent. Ms Bairds prior relationship precludes her from involvement in the process. PERIOD. She should step down of her own accord.
I agree-she is in conflict of interest and must step down and be replaced with a neutral person.
Court dates holding things up? Au contraire. Look at Site C. Permits issued before the court date. Shame on Justin Trudeau and the NEB.
The PM has a lot of work to do to restore law and order in Canada after decades of puppet government and reaping of resources by the greedy few. We have a non-constitutional monarchy in this country and business is the king.
Loved your article by the way.
I certainly agree with your comments. Justin Trudeau and his Liberals are NOT the change we need in Canada!!
I agree. Shame on Justine!
Its a clear conflict, get rid of her, public forums etc. turn out to be scams at the very least, At least make it look transparent. Might be a good thing that they are pressing the envelope if the courts throw the pipeline out as a result, BUT then we need to stop the work until the courts decide.
The public needs to pay attention and put more pressure on the Liberals. Hold them accountable, an issue in a Democracy if you won’t dedicate the time. We have a perfect example happening in NA right now.
Based on what exactly does the author declare “She is by all accounts a very nice person ” as her actions don’t point in that direction one bit?
Based on all preceding comments, looks like we have a consensus here: CONFLICT OF INTEREST DOES INDEED EXIST: PM Trudeau /Federal Government needs to do the right thing ASAP (pursuant to Liberal Party promises made during their 2015 Election campaign.) Ms Baird needs to be replaced on NEB Advisory Pipeline Review Panel.
Are either Baird or the Trudeau government living up to the concept of caretaking our environment and country for the betterment of all (life) or are they just committed to maintaining the corporate greed manifesto with total disregard for us, our children and grandchildren? Are they expressing an Indifference to the possibility of destroying any life of viability for all interconnected life forms on this planet. I would suggest that the latter is in fact the possible reality and that any government that would appoint an individual such as Baird to this panel may by such an act being pretty damn blatant about it. I would suggest that it could be even possibly be construed as an act of disrespect for ancestral wisdom and spiritually on the part of this appointed individual. But then this is only a musing on my part….
I guess the status quo is – profit and greed at all costs