Energy East pipeline: TransCanada told to “cease and desist”

After paying for town’s silence on Energy East pipeline, TransCanada lawyers told to “cease and desist” 

by: Obert Madondo  | Sun. Jul. 20, 2014

Energy East Pipeline. (Credit: TransCanada)

Energy East Pipeline. (Credit: TransCanada)

The Council of Canadians this week told TransCanada Corp to “cease and desist” from the deplorable practice of purchasing the silence of small Canadian towns likely to be affected by its tar sands expansion projects.

Anticipating stiff opposition to its proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline, TransCanada gave Mattawa, a small town in Ontario, $30K under its public engagement program to purchase a rescue truck. TransCanada and the Mattawa, a town of 2,100 people, signed an agreement that contained an “egregious clause” requiring the town to “not publicly comment on TransCanada’s operations or business projects” for five long years.

In response, Council of Canadians delivered a “cease and desist” letter to TransCanada’s lawyers demanding that the energy giant enter into no similar gag order agreements with other municipalities likely to be impacted by the pipeline.

Mattawa sits on the proposed path of Energy East. It is one of the more than 75 communities that may be affected by the pipeline in Alberta, Sakatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. The pipeline is expected to cross the traditional lands of more than 50 First Nations, none of which have been consulted.

“The Council of Canadians respectfully demands that TransCanada immediately cease and desist from attempting to enter into
any such agreements with Canadian municipalities, whose primary legal responsibility is to represent the public and to act in its best interests. Canadians’ silence – much less their approval – cannot be bought and sold,” Brent Patterson, the Council of Canadians’ Political Director, wrote in the letter. “Should TransCanada continue to attempt to stifle Canadians’ freedom of expression and undermine their ability to participate in the self-governance of their communities, the Council of Canadians will exercise every available avenue against TransCanada in order to affirm Canadians’ democratic rights.”

If built, the 4,400 Energy East pipeline would carry 1.1 million barrels of crude per day, including crude from the tar sands, from Alberta to Canada’s East Coast.

“Communities along the Energy East path are faced with the significant risks of a spill from what would be North America’s largest oil pipeline,” said Andrea Harden-Donahue, the Council of Canadians’ Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner. “Donations with these kinds of strings attached compromise elected officials’ freedom of speech and limit their ability to perform their duties.

“We are closely working with legal expertise on this. We warn TransCanada that this kind of action is not tolerable, and we will be watching.”

The Council of Canadians says the Energy East pipeline would “lead to massive tanker exports from the Atlantic coast to Europe, India, China and the U.S” and gas shortages in Ontario and Quebec. Environmental experts have warned that the the pipeline could potentially lead to run away climate change.

A report released in May by The Council of Canadians, Ecology Action Centre, Environmental Defence and Equiterre says Energy East would yield meagre benefits for Canada, with most of the oil heading for export markets like India and Europe.

“It’s very frustrating to watch a company trying to convince Canadians that they should accept these massive risks based on some perceived benefit that they may receive. When you dig into it, you find that it’s an empty promise,” the Environmental Defence’s Adam Scott told the CBC News in May. “It’s just not true that Eastern Canada’s going to benefit in the way that TransCanada’s saying they are. And when you look and see that this is a project about putting vast quantities of oil onto tankers and shipping them out of the country, people who are convinced that ‘this is going to mean more local jobs for me’ are going to be very disappointed.”

I highly recommend the Council of Canadians’s Energy East pipeline campaign page.

Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based progressive blogger, and the founder and editor of The Canadian Progressive. Follow him on