Oil and gas panel walks out of Victoria hearing amid accusations of bias

Victoria, B.C. (May 13, 2004)-The federally appointed panel on oil and gas development tonight walked out of hearings in Victoria, after the panel’s Chair, Roland Priddle, was questioned by a presenter about receiving remuneration as a director of Talisman Energy.

“I’m disappointed Mr. Priddle chose not to clear the public record and allow me to express my opinion,” said Stuart Hertzog, the presenter whose question prompted the panel to walk. “This panel is obviously biased, and tonight’s episode confirms for me just how flawed this process is.”

Hertzog, President of Sea Watch Ecological Society, asked Priddle to clarify a statement he made at a previous hearing in Masset, B.C., where he stated on the record that he had not received income from Talisman Energy for many years. In response, Priddle admitted to receiving benefits as recently as May 4, 2004-contrary to his previous statement.

During Hertzog’s questioning regarding Talisman, his microphone was turned off and the recorder directed to strike his comments from the record. Shortly thereafter, the panel left the room, preventing the remaining presenters from delivering their presentations.

“I think he should step down or be removed from the panel,” said Hertzog.

All four presenters preceding Hertzog voiced strong opposition to lifting the federal moratorium on oil and gas development on the B.C. coast. A federal moratorium has been in place since 1971, with a similar provincial moratorium in place since 1984.

One of the people prevented from making a presentation to the panel was Kathryn Molloy, Executive Director of Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter.

“I found the panel walking out to be disrespectful to the people here tonight, and to all British Columbians,” said Molloy. “This is meant to be a forum for the public to voice its concerns about oil and gas, and one of those concerns is related to the process itself.”

For more information, please contact:

Stuart Hertzog, Sea Watch Ecological Society: (250) 889-3436
Kathryn Molloy, Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter: (250) 882-1645 (cell)
Taylor Bachrach, Sierra Club of Canada, BC Chapter: (250) 386-5255, ext. 240

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