Neither Law nor Order

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:

16 Responses to “Neither Law nor Order”

  1. Jane Camfield says:

    Photos and comments of this “event” strongly suggest that this current round of “hearings” is a farce. Where is government? Where is our prime minister who promised “no tanker traffic”? What happened to his Paris commitments? The oil industry isn’t government, and a large constituency of Canadians is ready for change. We need informed and courageous politicians to step up, end these endless reviews, and announce a new plan for renewables in Canada. It is so obvious that further encouraging the fossil fuel industry is disastrous (written as a huge oil spill drifts down river to North Battleford)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Would love to be able to attend and give them an earful, too bad all the consultations are in southern BC. My community is on the Fraser River, but I’m sure a spill down there wouldn’t affect the river up here right?

    • Lisa Sammartino says:

      I would encourage you to send the panel an email sharing your concerns, but also raising the point that they have left many communities out of their schedule. (It’s long, we know!)

    • Harald Tilgner says:


      The salmon will be dead and so will the river system’s ecological balance.

      People need to start thinking holistically in a truly global sense before it is too late for this planet to recover from the present proliferation of ignorami.

      Get a life!

  3. April Goodman says:

    Public hearings officially have no “teeth” and never have had. They seem to be in place only to placate the public into thinking the government has heard and responded to their concerns. For the process to have any real kahunas, it needs to be a “Public Inquiry” and that is what we really need for this serious issue.

  4. Wayne Froese says:

    Thanks Lisa. The format and rules are indeed a fluid thing with the Panel – who in Chilliwack again essentially stated they have no authority. Invitations received by First Nations leaders were very last minute (chronicled by local media). CAPP et al. had the good sense to not be present. There were at least 25 commentors in the public segment, speaking informedly and passionately. I summarized that the KM proposal grossly understates the risks, and greatly overstates the benefits – which truthfully amount to nothing for our community. Meanwhile a leak from the pipeline the runs directly over our aquifer, would be game over for us. That alone, I told the panel, should be a deal breaker.

  5. judi says:

    We need to organize under one banner in order to move forward…ideas? This is a walk in the park for KinderMorgan.

  6. Andy says:

    This is disgraceful and insulting to those who participated and those who were excluded through lack of notice etc.. Nothing worse than governments that hold “hearings” so they can say they have had them but have no interest in what anyone has to say because the decision is made. Two panel members have no credibility and the process is a joke. Thought things would be different with Trudeau in this regard. Very disappointing.

  7. Christine Bennett says:

    Could you supply a map of the proposed pipeline? I am weary of fighting battles and have enough on my plate right now but if life calms down who knows? I live near Vernon and have just moved here from Edmonton after a five year struggle with city hall, which we finally won only to hire an unscrupulous contractor out here. When that gets resolved I might be interested in getting more involved.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This sounds like the same format used to study the feasability of the Site C Dam.

  9. John Morgan says:

    It is quite obvious that the current Liberal brokerage party and government like the previous Conservative brokerage party can not be trusted. It is time for real change. An Elizabeth May type change. A reality check on what is happening to our great country and how the corporate coup has taken over. Come on Canadians wake up.Our Indigenous sisters and brothers, Dogwood, David Suzuki, the Council of Canadians, CCPA and many others including the Green Party of B.C. and Canada are shouting out “Don’t let folly win the day”. We have to take back ownership of our destiny and it does not include proposals for more pipelines. The North Saskatchewan River disaster is just the latest of many bad situations, with more to come if we lose our resolve to turn things around. Write to Prime Minister Trudeau and call him on his spin that he should be trusted.

  10. Rick says:

    Actually I am going to vote Green from now on in the hope that somehow B.C. can gain a voice when such broad reaching environmental issues are being introduced. I am so disappointed in the Liberals as it seems they are replicating the horrors put upon us by the past Conservative government regarding “listening” to public concerns. I fear the tankers in grossly increased numbers on our coast but it seems that we are once again being badly treated (no respect) by these damn panels that are foisted upon us to placate but not listen. My limited investigation of the intent of increasing pipeline supply capability is to export not only to any nation willing to “buy” but also utilize the new enlarged Panama Canal (exporting to Texas Refineries). It is apparent that foreign owned industry results in foreign owned government. Why not refine in Canada? Not a big enough market?

  11. suzanne guimond says:

    unable to post this page on Facebook pages Canadians Waking Up the Masses and Eyes on Democracy,

    • Lisa Sammartino says:

      Hi Suzanne, We are having a difficulties with some of the social share functions on our blogs. This should be fixed soon. Thanks for your patience. – Lisa

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