Burnaby’s Mayor slams Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion in scathing speech

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In a wide-ranging speech at an anti-pipeline rally, Burnaby’s Mayor Derek Corrigan gave a blistering attack on Kinder Morgan, the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, the National Energy Board, and the growing influence of multinational corporations.

Standing beside council members and leaders with the Tsleil Waututh Nation and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the mayor spoke of what his city is doing to “stand up to Kinder Morgan.”

More than 100 residents attended the anti-pipeline rally, with some describing the speech as “powerful” and “surprising for a municipal leader.”

Below is an edited portion of that speech from Burnaby Mountain, which is available in full on Youtube.

“I’m so pleased that we continue to get letters and e-mails and correspondence that support what we’re doing. There’s so many people from across British Columbia who are recognizing the challenge that we’re taking on…”

“The correspondence that I receive is now coming in from all over the world. I walked into my office the other day to a message from a gentleman from New York to say how much he appreciated us standing up to Kinder Morgan — that’s really something for a little city like Burnaby.

“And even better, I went on to Facebook – and one of my little nieces had wrote ‘my uncle is awesome’ – (smiling) – now how many guys get that!?”

“This mountain was originally given to Simon Fraser University. It was given as endowment lands… We were worried a number of years ago… whether they’d be able to protect these lands. So the City of Burnaby agreed to buy back Burnaby Mountain from the university.”

“It shows you how important this was to our city that we went in and paid cash and traded land to the university, to ensure that we were the one that were going to be the guardians of this conservation area for perpetuity.”

“To be doubly sure…. we went out and had a referendum from our citizens. They voted by referendum and said this would remain a park forever until citizens voted differently. That’s how important this park is to us.”

“We’ve done some polling….70% of people in Burnaby are supporting us.”

“Politicians around the lower mainland are beginning to realize that this is an issue that deals with the solidarity of municipalities and politicians to fight against the kind of corporate interests that are contending now to control so much of our culture.”

“I can remember at occasions like this when I was 20 years old at Easter Be-In’s at Stanley Park, with hair down over my shoulders — if you can imagine that – and we were protesting big issues…nuclear weapons…the War in Vietnam… women’s equality and racial discrimination.”

“But what we didn’t see coming up was the corporate culture – the idea that multinational corporations could be become bigger than countries, and more powerful than countries.”

“That they were able to lobby in a way that no citizen could. That they had full time employees who were sitting in places like Ottawa, talking in the ear of the politicians to convince them to do what they wanted.”

“Pretty soon, those politicians, far away from us, began to believe what they were told. They began to believe that their interests coincided with the interest of the multinational corporations. There’s a few who continue to stand up, like Kennedy Stewart, who make it clear they are not buying that kind of argument. But there are many who are buying it…”

Kinder Morgan’s roots with Enron

“Think about it. Kinder and Morgan. The two fellows who brought you Enron,” said Corrigan scoffing.

“Now, here’s two guys who are smart. They got out before the arrests started. They took their money and put their money into pipelines. Did they change their attitudes? I don’t think so.”

“Just the other day, a reorganization of Kinder Morgan put $800 million more into Richard Kinder’s pocket. So on a simple reorganization – not because of the fruit of his labour, not because of innovation, not because of creativity – it was a “re-org” that allowed him to do that. And he still continues to sit in what is a trust company, that pays no American taxes.

“You think that Rich Kinder cares, that in Enron, all of those employees forever lost their pensions? Richard Kinder is okay. He sits there in Houston able to control a corporation that can reach its tentacles out to anywhere in the world in order to implement the kinds of policies that companies like Kinder Morgan want.”

“Let me tell you just a little story about what happened with this pipeline [in Burnaby].”

“Prior to this all beginning, Kinder Morgan went to the National Energy Board and said ‘we need to get additional money in order to do this application.’”

NEB gives Kinder Morgan $135 million ‘war chest’

“The National Energy Board awarded them $135 million as a surcharge on oil to be paid by consumers and non-taxable for them to build a war chest in order for them to be able to implement this application.” [Ed. note: See Robyn Allan’s report on the 136 Million Kinder Morgan subsidy.]

“So you remember all that stuff you were taught about people risking capital to be capitalists? Not here. The reality is, and in fact [Kinder Morgan president] Ian Anderson boasted about it as they’re last annual meeting – he boasted that they were doing this application and it wouldn’t cost the shareholders as thing, because all this money was being taken from the Canadian people, in order to sponsor this application. Think about it.”

David versus Goliath?

“Think how that makes me feel because the City of Burnaby is carrying all of our opposition on our own shoulders. As a city, we’re looking at our own funds to be able to fight back against an application that is overwhelming. It’s our staff and this little city that are doing all that work to produce 1,500 questions that we are asking about whether or not this project is going to have a massive deleterious effect on our city, and we’ve been working hard to try and show that it is.”

“But Kinder Morgan – bought and paid for by the National Energy Board, the very body that will eventually make a decision [on the pipeline’s fate.] So how do you expect the board is going to rule when they’ve already made a $135 million investment in seeing this project go through. It makes everyone feel a lack of confidence in the impartiality and objectivity of the National Energy Board.”

“We’ve stood up aggressively against this because we don’t believe anything Kinder Morgan says. We haven’t from the very beginning. Those of you who remember how this project started – it started as a twinning of the pipeline. Remember that?”

“It was a little bit like the twinning of the Port Man Bridge. Oh yeah, that bridge they are taking down, because they just killed the twin.”

“There was no intention to put that pipeline down the existing right away. From the very beginning, they were looking for new routes in the City of Burnaby for them to utilize for their pipeline.

“Now, they are proposing to cut down trees in our community to bore holes into our mountain, and tunnel through our mountain. Now I don’t think they are going to be successful in doing that. I don’t think seismically this mountain will be able to take that.

“But that’s not good news. Because what Kinder Morgan is looking at, and what I believe they are looking at, is to say to the National Energy Board: ‘Sorry – we did this, we did the geological testing, but we can’t bore through. But we found a route through the Conservation Area for a right of way, that we can utilize, and that’s where we want to go.”

“We want to be able to push through these beautiful forests, through all of our wildlife, in order to take this pipeline from their tank farm where they will store 5 million litres of bitumen oil to Burrard Inlet to put on to supertankers that will be plying the Burrard Inlet for decades into the future.”

‘Potential catastrophe’ from tanker spill

“Now — that is the scariest concept for us as a city and as a province that you can imagine. When you think about the potential catastrophe that could occur as a result of one of those tankers being damaged in our inlet – the destruction that that would cause to the reputation of this city…the people that surround that inlet…[and] to the wildlife – and never mind the tourism.”

“No one would want to come to British Columbia to see what was one of the most beautiful cities in the world because of one accident and one tanker. And we just increased those odds by seven times as a result of this project. That frightens me, and it frightens all of you…”

“I’m so proud that citizens in my community have stood up, like BROKE (Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion), who are willing to take this on, citizens who are putting in a huge amount of effort personally to do this. I can’t say enough about the people who are carrying the weight of this on their shoulders.”

“What’s more is that others like NOPE (North Shore – NO Pipeline Expansion) on the North Shore are calling on to their politicians to stand with us in solidarity.”

“The City of Vancouver is standing with us — Gregor Robertson and Vision Vancouver have come out and said they are supporting what Burnaby is doing, and they are supporting opposition to Kinder Morgan.”

“When people talk about not voting — it could not be more important for you to vote in these elections coming up municipally in November. To get out and support politicians who are in solidarity with the kinds of principals that we have here in the City of Burnaby, and that we know we share with you.”