Despite 800 Spills in 10 Years, Oil Company Tries to Convince Town to Vote for a New Pipeline

Enridge Inc. wants residents in Kitimat, British Columbia to make a bone-headed decision.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Andrea Slatter

Political campaigns aren't the only ones where vast sums of money are spent to sway people.

In Kitimat, British Columbia, where one of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines would end and supply a half million barrels of oil a day, Enridge has poured money into an advertising campaign to convince residents to vote on April 12 in favor of the pipeline.

It is not clear just how much has been spent, but Enridge has enlisted the help of dozens of out-of-town volunteers to put up signs and take up air time voicing support for the pipeline. Kitimat has no rules barring out-of-towners from swooping in and monopolizing ad space (digital and physical).

Enridge has also hosted "community events" ostensibly meant to educate the public on the pipeline, but that inevitably play it up as overwhelmingly beneficial. This despite the fact that there have been 800 Enridge oil spills between 1999 and 2000. 

“They are infiltrating [my] life – they’re on the TV, radio, Internet, phoning you, and now just showing up at your door," said resident Manny Arruda to the Vancouver Observer. "I know they’ve been phoning everyone.  So to me, that tells me that the numbers are not there for them, and they’ve got to go and blitz it.”

At a recent Kitimat council meeting, citizens complained that temporary workers who were there to work on the pipeline had an equal say in voting for the pipeline, even though they were less likely to endure its negative effects long after they leave. 

“The construction camp for Rio Tinto Alcan is easily more than 1,000 workers.  It’s within the District of Kitimat.  Are there are going to be bus loads of people coming from a construction camp to influence what’s going to happen here for generations to come?” Murray Minchin of Douglas Channel Watch said to the Vancouver Observer.

Fortunately, Kitimat Deputy Clerk Shirley Boudreault said that temporary workers will not be eligible to vote for the project. However, the advertising blitz by Enridge continues. 

Aaron Cantú is an investigator for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and an independent journalist based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @aaronmiguel_
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