Election 2014: Anti-Enbridge stance defines candidates’ group

But group of incumbent Terrace city councillors – including one mayoral hopeful – insists it is not a slate

What looks to be a coalition of Terrace city council candidates running for re-election who voted together to pass a council resolution opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline has surfaced.

The four, councillor Bruce Bidgood who is now running for mayor, and councillors Lynne Christiansen, James Cordeiro and Stacey Tyers, are all featured on business card-sized cards being distributed around town.

Under the heading “Re-elect opposition to Enbridge” the four are listed and the bottom of the card reads, “They had the courage to lead now they need our support.”

Speaking last week, Bidgood said the group dates back to January 2012 when as members of the current city council elected in 2011, they voted together, along with councillor Marylin Davies who resigned earlier this year because she was moving away, to oppose the shipping of oil via pipeline and of tankers on the north coast.

“The purpose of these cards was to remind people of who did and did not vote in favour of city council’s motion to oppose tanker expansion and raw bitumen shipments by pipeline across B.C.,” said Bidgood. “It is just a statement of fact.”

He confirmed he “specifically approved the content” of the cards and signs and that they were paid for “by the combined contributions of anonymous donors from a cooperative fundraiser for candidates opposed to Enbridge (Northern Gateway).”

That fundraiser was a spaghetti plate fundraiser held at Bidgood’s house Oct. 25, with a suggested donation of $20 a plate.

One other non-incumbent candidate, Brenda Wesley, attended the fundraiser, which, according to a post on Bidgood’s Facebook page, resulted in monies being “equitably distributed among all of the candidates who participated.”

The cards have led supporters of mayoral candidate Carol Leclerc to charge that the four are running as a slate and, if all are elected, will have a majority vote on council which is made up of six councillors and the mayor.

But that suggestion is denied by the candidates named on the card.

“We aren’t a slate,” said Tyers last week. “It’s just a reminder that the four of us voted in opposition and if the numbers change that could change. Aside from our opposition to Enbridge we have pretty varying platforms unlike a slate… we’ve worked together for three years it makes sense to have some shared visions and goals”

That point was echoed by Cordeiro following the all candidates forum Nov. 5.

“The vote is on public record, so when I was asked about (his name being on the campaign literature highlighting Enbridge opposition), my answer was ‘Well it’s a statement of fact, so if that’s what you’re going to do, that’s what you’re going to do.’ I didn’t have a veto,” he said.

Christiansen also said that it was a fact that she voted that way, adding she didn’t help pay for the cards’ printing.

Bidgood addressed the issue directly at the all-candidates meeting Nov. 5.

“No, this is not a slate that will act in concerted action and it was never intended to be,” he said in response to a question from audience member Bert Husband, a Leclerc supporter who also nominated council candidate Lucy Praught.

“What it does signify is a new level of cooperation where existing city councillors can help out new city councillors. And if that represents some sort of slate or conspiracy, I’d say so be it,” said Bidgood.

“But on the other hand, I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t suggest that there is another slate or another group of people working in concert who are doing it in the backroom of coffee shops and things of that nature,” he concluded, adding that to call out only one group of like-minded candidates is “unfair.”

First-time council candidates Michael Prevost and Wesley appear in a photograph on Bidgood’s Facebook page with incumbent councillors at an Oct. 16 event billed as being put on by a group labelled as “Terrace Councillors Against Enbridge”, which Bidgood said is not an official name.

The event was staged so that Skeena – Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen could promote his tanker-ban private members’ bill. Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin was also at that event. Prevost said he had prior engagements the night of the Oct. 25 fundraiser and was unable to attend.