Town hall meeting on climate change, pipeline could be stacked

Liberal MP Terry Beech hosting town hall Saturday on climate change and Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Liberal MP Terry Beech says the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and housing affordability are the top two issues he hears about from constituents in Burnaby North-Seymour.

Terry Beech, the Liberal MP for Burnaby North-Seymour, will host a town hall meeting in Burnaby Saturday, July 16, for a discussion on his government’s climate action plan and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

“It’s an opportunity for residents to come together from both Burnaby and North Vancouver to discuss two important issues,” Beech told Business in Vancouver.

But Stewart Muir, executive director for Resource Works, warns that the discussion could be hijacked by the environmental activists in a coordinated campaign being organized by the People’s Climate Action Plan, which plans to “flood” town hall meetings being held across Canada by Liberal MPs.

Saturday’s meeting is part of the Liberal government’s plans to discuss its climate change policies. Meetings are being held across Canada, hosted by Liberal MPs.

In Seymour North-Burnaby’s case, Beech said the first hour of the meeting will focus on climate change. The balance of the meeting will be an open discussion on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

“We want to make sure, when we go back to Ottawa in September, that we have a full understanding of exactly where our community stands and what they’re concerned about so we can communicate that on their behalf,” Beech said.

He added the Trans Mountain project and housing prices are the issues he hears most about from his constituents.

“We actually measure all of the phone calls and emails and mail that that we get and, consistently, the Trans Mountain pipeline – along with housing affordability, actually – have been top of mind for a lot of our constituents,” he said.

The Trans Mountain expansion has been conditionally approved by the National Energy Board (NEB), although the final decision rests with cabinet.

To address concerns that the NEB process itself was gerrymandered by the previous Conservative government in favour of the proponent, Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE:KMI), the Liberal government struck a special ministerial panel to get feedback on the process from First Nations and communities along the pipeline route.

Public ministerial panel meetings will be held in Vancouver August 17 and North Vancouver August 19. See the full list of meetings here.

A final decision on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is to be made by the federal government in December.

The People’s Climate Action Plan appears to have been organized specifically around the federal government’s town hall meetings on climate change. More than two dozen environmental organizations and anti-pipeline groups are part of the People’s Climate Action Plan.

In a recent blog post, Muir points out that the group’s plan is to try to swamp the federal government’s town hall meetings on climate change with those pushing a Leap Manifesto and anti-fossil fuel agenda.

“Our goal is simple: flood the climate consultations to show people across the country are ready for a bold climate plan that makes Canada into a global climate leader,” Rodrigo Samayoa of Leadnow.ca, one of the groups behind the People’s Climate Action Plan, writes in an email posted on Citizen Action Monitor.

Muir said he has no issue with the group organizing its supporters to participate in town hall meetings, but said it’s important for MPs hosting the town hall meetings to know they could be getting a skewed view of public opinion.

“I’m really glad that there’s this platform for everyone – including the People’s Action committee – to come out and have its say,” he told Business in Vancouver.

“But I think it’s equally important that we don’t, come the fall, see the politicians in Ottawa say, ‘Well, we’ve asked all the Canadians what they think, and we did some consultations and it turns out 80% of people in Canada are against anything to do with petroleum products, therefore we’re going to ban them.'"

Saturday’s meeting takes place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Confederation Community Centre, 4585 Albert Street, in Burnaby.

nbennett@biv.com