In Kamloops, dedicated residents raised concerns about Kinder Morgan’s pipeline proposal. These are their stories.

The B.C. portion of the Minister’s Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline Expansion panel tour kicked off this week. First stop: Kamloops, where a small but vocal group of First Nations, local government representatives and residents gathered to share their concerns about the proposed pipeline.

Dogwood’s Director of Strategy, Will Horter, made the long trek from Victoria. And as anyone with Twitter can see, Will and some of Dogwood’s friends did their fair share of work documenting the past two days. So we thought we’d start a repository for all of the “Kinder surprises” and give a full report on the first couple days of proceedings.

When asked about how the two days went, Will replied, “The whole exercise is fairly painful.” And indeed, by all accounts, it was.

Exhibit A) The panellists showed up late because they could not find the designated meeting room.

Unfortunately, the panellists weren’t the only ones not on time — municipal representatives missed their presentation. Because nobody had told them about it. The night before the panel meeting, Will spoke to two Kamloops Councillors that hadn’t heard about the meeting and had prior commitments making it impossible to attend.

Exhibit B)  Considering  that Tuesday morning was designated specifically for a “local government roundtable” and the afternoon for a “First Nations roundtable”, Natural Resources Canada put very little effort into actually inviting the local government and First Nations representatives. 

Exhibit C) The agenda and the rules seemed to be made up as they went along. Each presenter was told they would have three to five minutes to speak, with the exception of the representative from Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, who was given 14 minutes for their presentation.

On the second day of the hearing the panel announced that members of the public could question each presenter. We wish this opportunity would have been available to test the factual basis for some of the statements made by the CAPP representative. Dogwood’s representative Will took full advantage of the changed format to question John Ranta, the mayor of Cache Creek, about the validity of the “rail cars vs. pipelines” debate. At this point, panellist Tony Penikett interjected: “This is not a cross examination, this is not a court of law.”

And indeed, contrary to my use of exhibitory evidence in this blog, the panel meetings are not a court of law. The decision that the panellists will make is not legally binding. As panelist Kim Baird repeatedly pointed out, “We are not the decision maker… this is not a consultation, we are here to listen, not to make recommendations.”  If this is true, it begs the question: What is the point of these  panel meetings?

Although well informed, it doesn’t appear to be set up to hear the concerns of First Nations, local governments, NGOs and B.C. communities, given the disorganization of the meetings in Kamloops and the bias of the panellists (yes, you read that right. More than one).

By this point, concerns about panellist Kim Baird have been well documented. She was even called out on her conflict of interest in Kamloops.

However, the real surprise came from panellist Tony Penikett, who began to argue with one of the presenters:

Considering  that Kinder Morgan’s product is destined for export, not Canadian vehicles, it’s irrelevant how pipeline opponents get around.

When called on his comments later, Penikett denied saying them — an easy claim to make when there is no official recording of the meetings.

Yep, you heard that right. With no stenographer and no audio-video recordings, British Columbia’s fate relies on the memories and interpretations of these panellists, two of whom have already shown their prejudice.

Nevertheless, Kamloops residents found their own ways to express what they really thought of the panel:

And the friendly Kamloops residents did welcome the panellists to visit again:

Through it all, participants couldn’t help but notice the elephant in the room:

Humour and puns aside, there are serious consequences to the recommendation the panel makes to the Minister of Natural Resources and Cabinet this fall. It’s time for the panellists to prove they are taking the rest of the meetings more seriously, and that they aren’t just putting the “con” in “consultation”.

Today, the panel is greeting a full house in Chilliwack. Over the next couple of weeks, meetings will be held through the Lower Mainland and in Victoria. Although the process is seriously flawed, British Columbians need to show up to ensure that Ottawa doesn’t take our disgust for this ridiculous process as an indication of acceptance of Kinder Morgan.

To attend future panel meetings, sign up here: