The current city council’s 2012 decision to oppose Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project became the source of a vigorous debate featuring mayoral candidates Bruce Bidgood and Carol Leclerc at the Nov. 5 municipal all-candidates forum.
It began when an audience member asked Leclerc if she supported or opposed the project.
“The city has already made a decision and I fully respect that decision and have no intention of doing anything about that decision,” said Leclerc in response.
When Leclerc was asked several times by the same person if she was in favour of the project or not, the candidate listed off a series of issues Enbridge still had to face, including meeting the federal government’s 209 conditions before construction could begin and First Nations opposition.
“Do I see Enbridge going ahead? Not a hope,” she said.
But Bidgood responded to Leclerc’s comments, saying she has had several opportunities over the past years to declare what he termed Leclerc’s “unequivocal” position on Northern Gateway but chose not to.
He said Leclerc voted to have council take part in Enbridge community advisory boards, for council to take a neutral stance on the pipeline project when she was on city council, was not in the convention hall when a resolution to oppose tanker traffic was passed at a 2010 Union of BC Municipalities convention, and favoured Enbridge financing of programs.
“I say ‘no’, that’s it,” said Bidgood of his own Northern Gateway position.
Leclerc then said it was important to consider the environment in the transportation of crude oil, adding that pipeline transport is 35 times safer than by rail car.
“I’d go with a pipeline before I’d go with a rail car,” she said.
Asked for clarification of Bidgood’s statements afterward, Leclerc did acknowledge the majority of his assertions.
She said Bidgood’s claim of favouring Enbridge financing of programs might have related to her work as a trades coordinator with the Coast Mountains School District.
In that capacity, Leclerc continued, “[I] did work with Northern Gateway staff on securing a grant for the school district for a feasibility study on a training facility at Thornhill Junior.”